For me, Rebecca Daphne du Maurier is a timeless classic. Find out more about the story, and why you should read it, here…
Are you a book lover who loves to read a classic every now and again? Then I think you may find a reading companion in Daphne du Maurier.
My first taste of du Maurier’s masterpieces was in her most acclaimed novel, Rebecca. The story has not once been out of the bookshops since it first went on sale in the late 30s, and has remained as popular as ever amongst its readers.
This book is ideal for a challenging holiday read, or a book to snuggle up with by the fire in Winter. Whatever you fancy, it should act as a comforting tale to begin with, which morphs into a twisting story by the end. Read on to uncover my thoughts on Daphne du Maurier’s break-out novel…
Rebecca Daphne du Maurier Summary
Notoriously deemed a romance novel, du Maurier’s story is based around the life of a young girl around my age. She begins as a paid companion to a shrill, social-climbing American woman, currently residing in Monte Carlo. Here, they meet Maxim de Winter, a recently widowed estate owner of a Cornish country mansion – Manderley.
Sweeping her off her feet, Maxim whisks the narrator from her mundane lifestyle to his estate, marrying her to become the new Mrs de Winter. However, the shadow of the late Mrs de Winter, Rebecca, who died in a sailing accident, hangs within the very walls and grounds of the house, and the narrator cannot shake her presence.
Rebecca is idolised by everyone Mrs de Winter meets, only increasing her anxiety within the world of glamour and social prestige in which she now resides; a world she has never been familiar. Struggling with the mounting pressure of being the lady of the house, keeping the man she loves happy, and maintaining her own identity against Rebecca’s stifling presence, the narrator must tackle her new life.
Yet, there is continued mystery behind Rebecca’s mysterious death and, as the story unfolds, du Maurier reveals an unexpected twist. To discover the gripping Rebecca ending, you’ll have to find out for yourself…
Rebecca Daphne du Maurier Analysis: Why Should You Read it?
What is initially interesting about du Maurier’s story is the lack of a name given to the narrator. In doing so, this cleverly transports the reader into her shoes, which perhaps explains the footprint that Rebecca left on me, even now, years after finishing the book. Indeed, in this way, I could certainly relate to the narrator.
Nevertheless, there were numerous attributes the protagonist possessed which I could not relate to, and these frustrated me immensely. The first of these characteristics was her insecurity within herself; when she discusses her love for Maxim, she questions his reciprocation. The lack of communication between the two main characters in this regard was completely irritating, and throughout the whole book I was willing her to confront him about his feelings.
Granted, 1938 was a different time to now, and the submissive nature of women back then may have spurred her lack of action. For this, I can forgive her.
What I struggled to empathise with was her lack of ability to delegate when she was faced with the challenge of becoming the lady of the household. Yes, she was not used to this role, but one of my life mottos is “fake it til you make it”. Trust me, if there is ever a time when you feel embarrassed to be in a certain situation, or feel as though you can’t do anything, just pretend you’re an expert – it works!
By juxtaposing these elements of the narrator’s character with the extremes of Rebecca’s personality, du Maurier taps into the mentality of a person suffering from social anxiety, alongside hints of Rebecca’s own mental issues, way beyond her time.
The timeless nature of Rebecca simply highlights how cutting-edge du Maurier’s writing was. Although her book was cast aside as simply a romance novel, more modern eyes can see it for what it truly is – a Gothic masterpiece.
In fact, since I turned its last page, I’ve been wondering why I didn’t study it as part of my year 13 English Literature class on the Gothic; a curse and a blessing perhaps, as these classes tended to ruin classic novels to the nth-degree. Sadly, Wuthering Heights will never be the same.
My New Favourite Book?
Ever since I was a young girl, I have not once been as captivated by a book as I was by Wild Magic, by Cat Weatherill. To this day, I can barely remember what the story entailed, but I simply remember deeming this “my favourite” book. This was when I was around 12 years old.
Soon after this, I drifted away from reading, as my studies took over. Once I became a teenager, I believed that my GCSEs were the be-all-and-end-all; I’ve since realised this was not the case. But, inevitably, life got in the way.
Now, as a 20-something-year-old woman, I have finally reinstated my love for reading. Since then, the only book I’ve read which has totally captivated me, perhaps more than I remember Wild Magic captivating me, was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
Those of you who have read this book already may be wondering, ‘why Rebecca?’. To answer your question, I cannot explain it fully.
At first, I thought I might find the prose a challenging read, and I did, but that was part of the magic behind the story. I was transported into the world of Manderley, amongst the red geraniums and the dusty, deserted corridors of the West Wing. In a way, Rebecca de Winter engulfed me almost as much as she engulfed the protagonist.
Rebecca, By Daphne du Maurier: a Timeless Classic?
Overall, as you can probably imagine, I highly recommend Rebecca, not only for the delicious way in which du Maurier writes it, but for her insight into matters of the mind, and the imprint Rebecca has left on me.
Daphne du Maurier books are deemed to be unique, and I will certainly agree with critics there. Rebecca swept me off my feet, more so than many of the classics I’ve read. So, get reading, and let me know what you think in the comment section below!