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The Classics Companion

I have a (small) obsession with books and tv shows. Proud geek.

Rebecca (Virago Modern Classics)

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier, Sally Beauman Honestly, I'm not sure why I decided to read this book. I was at a loose end after finishing Catching Fire, so I thought I'd just stroll through my school library and pick a classic. This jumped out at me. I must admit, it's advertising. I've always thought of Rebecca as a gothic romance novel, and I know it was originally labelled as that to increase sales, but ultimately? I don't think it is. It's reasonably gothic, yes, and there's a small amount of romance in there, but that's it. Albeit, it doesn't fit into any other genre, but to me, it was far more than a girl falls in love and moves to a old dark, scary house.

I really really enjoyed this book. It was slow at first, and I wasn't really sure where it was going. But once you brake into the whole concept of Manderley, it get very readable. For the majority of the start of the book, not a lot happens after the wedding. We see (the new) Mrs. de Winter slowly realise she's struggling to be who she is expected to me, can't run the house, and is ultimately haunted by her predecessor - Rebecca.

This is what I love about this book. Even though you get attached to the narrator, the character that steals the show is Rebecca, the dead wife who is loved by everybody. We never see her, we never have any flashbacks, but she's the embodiment of Manderley, and the novel as a whole. At first, I was confused over why the novel was even called Rebecca. There was hardly any mention of her in the first half of the book, and perhaps that was because it was from the point of view of the new wife. One who's trying to fit in but just sticks out like a sore thumb. The character of Maxim I found to be completely different to what I expected. I either expected him to be a Byronic hero, or a loving, doting husband. Instead, he was a bit of both, somewhere in the hazy in-between, that made him an unpredictable, but haunted character.

The second half of the book however, is where it really heats up. The hope and fall of the new Mrs. de Winter was amusing, if not harsh to read. The slow revelation that there was more to Rebecca's death than meets the eye. The slow unravelling of Maxim and Rebecca's relationship and what actually occured at Manderley during Rebecca's time made it really fascinating. It was more of a mystery than a gothic romance. What I also loved was the very clever use of first person narration. You only know what the new wife knows, and that works very well. It certainly wouldn't have worked in third person, the tension, suspense and intrigue wouldn't have been there.

Ultimately, it isn't what I expected, at all. I expected some kind of ghost haunting when I did some research, but what I get was a lot better. It wasn't a cliché gothic novel, it was a subtle, gothic, intriguing book that makes you want to read. Just because you honestly don't know where it's going to go. The Book People are selling a set of Daphne Du Maurier's books for like £6, and it's definitely going on my Christmas list...