Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rebecca - A Classic






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

                                                                                               The second Mrs. de Winter
  


These words evoke a number of images in the minds of all those who have read and loved Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca. It is still considered a classic, a haunting tale of love, suspense and yearning.



                            “A dreamer, I walked enchanted, and nothing held me back.” 

The young heroine, who is nameless, falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a dashing hero in her vulnerable eyes, who snatches her away from the wealthy and petulant Mrs. Van Hopper, whose companion she is, while at Monte Carlo.


               “Either you go to America with Mrs. Van Hopper or you come home to Manderley with me."

                    "Do you mean you want a secretary or something?"

                    "No, I'm asking you to marry me, you little fool.” 


                                                                         Laurence Olivier and Jane Fontaine

Maxim sweeps her off her feet and takes her back to his ancestral home, Manderley, to turn into the second Mrs. de Winter. The excited young bride suddenly finds a cloud hanging over her marriage as the memory of Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, hovers like a spectre, haunting her. Rebecca drowned in a cove the year before, but her touch is everywhere. The new bride feels intimidated by Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper who had loved Rebecca like her own child, and hence, was unwilling to accept a new mistress in the house.


                                                                                  The sinister Mrs. Danvers



 Is Maxim still in love with the beautiful Rebecca? Can he ever forget her and love his new wife? Does she stand a chance against the fascinating charm of the her predecessor?





A scene that remains etched in my mind is when our innocent heroine walks into the hall during the annual costume ball, wearing the same dress that Rebecca wore the previous year. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and Mrs. Danvers is the one who slyly suggests that she wear that very gown. Maxim is horrified, and the ball ends in disaster. The scene is so powerful that the reader can actually visualize it.

A grounded ship is discovered with Rebecca's body in the hold. Suspicion falls on Maxim, as holes are found in the hull. Is the coroner's verdict suicide or murder? Why does Favell, Rebecca's notorious cousin, accuse Maxim of the crime? Why did Rebecca go to London to visit a certain Dr. Baker on the day that she drowned? Why did Manderley turn into the stuff of dreams? 



These and other questions remain to intrigue those who have not read this masterpiece. The plot is masterly, the suspense chilling and this book is the forerunner of many thrillers that followed after.

Daphne Du Maurier proved that she was not a single bestseller author when she came out with many other marvellous books, including My Cousin Rachel and Jamaica Inn, both of which succeeded in keeping the reader on the edge of his seat.




Du Maurier admitted that the seeds of the plot of Rebecca came from her own jealousy of her husband, Major Tommy 'Boy' Browning's first fiancee. She called her book a study in jealousy.

“The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea."



                                        Antique print of Menabilly, Cornwall, the inspiration for Manderley


 “If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.” 

And that is so true of Rebecca, the classic, as well!


6 comments:

  1. I bought this book months ago and have not found the time to read it yet. After reading this post I'm in a race to finish the current book I'm reading and then pick this one up immediately!

    I loved the picture you have painted here. And I'm waiting to read the book and live it :)

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    1. Soumya, I envy you, and the fact that you will be reading this wonderful book for the first time! :) I didn't want to let out any of the details and be a spoiler. Have a great time and do let me know how you feel about the book when you finish it!

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  2. Lovely post Deepti. Have heard a lot about this book. Not read it though! Your post is making me wonder if I should :)

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    1. Sundari, I read this when i was in my teens, and then again when i was older. Frankly, I think it is a classic. Do read it and let me know what you feel about it! Happy reading!

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  3. Looks like another book I'll have to add to my reading list. :-)

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    1. Devika, please read it! I think you'll love it! :)

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