Author: Daphne du Maurier
Provided Synopsis: After a whirlwind romance and a honeymoon in Italy, the innocent young heroine and the dashing Maxim de Winter return to his country estate, Manderley. But the unsettling memory of Rebecca, the first Mrs. de Winter, still lingers within. The timid bride must overcome her husbands oppressive silences and the sullen hostility of the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, to confront the emotional horror of the past.
Review: How can one possibly describe Rebecca? She is neither the narrator of the story or among the living, and she does not need to be in order to become the richly defined character that she is. She is The Other Woman, in the eyes of the second Mrs. de Winter (our nameless narrator), and she is the catalyst to make the country estate, Manderley, the magical and mysteriously realized setting it has become. She is a shadow to linger over every page and every moment in the lives of the newly married de Winters. Rebecca, as a novel, is beautifully crafted due to the way Daphne du Maurier raises so many important questions and themes through the differences between the first and second Mrs. de Winter, one of the most intriguing being that of identity.
While Rebecca is an indestructible force, our nameless narrator is young and rather weak. She contributes to the powerful presence of her predecessor in the way she obsesses over her through daydreams. How can Rebecca de Winter ever fade away when our narrator sees her everywhere and supposes she is on everyone’s mind? The suspense during this struggle is palpable and psychological. It carries throughout the story, intermingling with secrets learned about Rebecca, her relationships with others, and her demise.
For its status as a classic novel and its ability to live up to the name, I would suggest Rebecca for all readers. If you have previously seen the Alfred Hitchcock-directed movie of the same name, have no fear, for you will still be as engrossed in the words and original intent of the storyline, which dive deeper into the character of Rebecca and further explain how she reached her watery grave.