My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.23/5
Published: August 1938
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Genre: Gothic fiction, mystery, crime, romance suspense, historical, classic
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady's maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives--presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.
A book narrated by the nameless madam throughout the novel, depicting her chance encounter and eventual marriage with Maxim de Winter. Her life at Manderley was hugely over shadowed by the late Rebecca de Winter, Maxim's first wife. Rebecca had apparently drowned while sailing during a thunderstorm and her sudden demise has left a big void in Manderley. With each turn, the new Mrs. de Winter has been reminded time and again of various items or routines belonging to Rebecca. In fact, Manderley is Rebecca.
The narrator's insecurity and naïve self was not helping much to gain credibility and confidence with the staffs. She's feebly voiced with not much opinion, leaving her gaps to be indirectly bullied especially by Mrs. Danver, the person in charge of the staffs at Manderley who also happened to be Rebecca's personal maid. The story progresses to slowly reveal the daily grinding the narrator endured and wishing that her husband would save her from the staff's wrath. When a body was found, the tables turned with so much drama that will test Maxim's love for the narrator.
Again, I am awed by this author. I thought My Cousin Rachel was good enough but Rebecca is so much better! I just loved how Daphne has written this book with the slow progression of the plot, slowly building the climax of the story and then that ending! Jealousy and revenge seemed to be the anthem of this book leading to a woman's wrath over the other. Antagonizing yet sympathetic, no wonder Rebecca has garnered many rave reviews over the years.
"I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden too, whatever the poets may say."