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Monday, 3 December 2018

Book Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The newly married Mrs de Winter realises she is walking in the shadow of her husband's late wife - the beautiful and perfect Rebecca - in their home at Manderley.

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

This was my first time reading du Maurier and it was certainly worth the wait. I didn't fall head over heels for Rebecca unfortunately, but one thing I cannot fault is du Maurier's writing. It's so beautifully atmospheric and elegant - it's very easy to just get lost in her prose. She is clearly a very skilled storyteller, it all seems quite effortless.

It's a bit of a slow build at first, but I'm a huge fan of a slow build. The characters are introduced, as is Manderley itself, and we learn more about the different backgrounds and relationships of the characters. Du Maurier is setting the scene. Then around the halfway mark or maybe even two-thirds of the way in, there's an abundance of twists and turns and I'm constantly messaging other readers after each big reveal, exclaiming "Oh my god! I can't believe X just happened!" However, if I'm honest, I did actually prefer the first two thirds of the book as opposed to that final fast-paced third, where all the secrets are quickly unravelling. I was surprised by the direction the story took, but ultimately preferred where my head thought the story was going to go? If that makes sense?

I love how du Maurier wrote a book wherein the most memorable and fascinating character is actually dead (that isn't a spoiler). Rebecca herself never has any lines, yet her presence is felt throughout the entirety of the novel. She's actually a lot more interesting than our protagonist and narrator, the new Mrs de Winter. At times her insecurities and doubts became quite tedious to read about. There was quite a lot of "Oh he doesn't love me... he just loves Rebecca... why would he love me?!" over and over and over again. She's such a limp, bland character that I really couldn't even blame him if he didn't love her, to be honest. And her fawning over her husband (no matter what he did or had done) left me feeling frustrated as well. I just didn't believe their relationship at any point.

My other issues with Rebecca are probably more to do with my own expectations. I thought Rebecca would be more of a ghost story? And, in a way, yes, Rebbeca herself lingers in Manderley as a haunting presence... but just not in the way I had hoped.

But that's not to say that I didn't enjoy this, because I really did! Those are just the little things that niggled at me and stopped me from giving this one 5 stars. I'm very excited to read more du Maurier in the future though - hopefully with a more exciting protagonist or narrator...

4 stars.

Johann
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