On a trip to the South of France, the shy heroine of Rebecca falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. Although his proposal comes as a surprise, she happily agrees to marry him. But as they arrive at her husband's home, Manderley, a change comes over Maxim, and the young bride is filled with dread. Friendless in the isolated mansion, she realises that she barely knows him. In every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs de Winter walks in her shadow.
This haunting 20th century classic is perfect for the teenage market. Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and Frenchman's Creek are now available for the first time in YA editions.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again....
Where do I start with this book, I wish I had actually read it years ago. My mum has read it many times over the years along with Du Maurier's other books such as the legendary Jamaica Inn and The Birds but I could never get around to reading it. Until now.
You actually forget that this book was written back in the thirties, close your eyes and you could compare the dark and brooding Maxim de Winter against your favourite contemporary read.
Obviously there are a lot of things that do remind you that this book is set in the thirties, when we meet our leading un-named character, a young woman who is the companion to an older gregarious woman. They are on holiday in the south of France and the arrival of the handsome widower, Maxim de Winter sets tongues wagging.
De Winter's wife Rebecca drowned and he is all alone at his country estate, Manderley, a house with a fearsome reputation.
Our narrator and De Winter find themselves spending time after her companion finds herself bed-bound, they spend time getting to know one another, she is a socially awkward young woman and he a forty-something man, a proper man's man you know!
Having only known each other for a couple of weeks, she is distraught to find she is going to be going to New York, she finds De Winter to tell him and he asks her to marry him to which she agrees. All is fantastically well until their return to Manderley.
It is a house shrouded in secrets, the staff, most of all the scary Mrs Danvers seem to have been swept away by the previous Mrs de Winter - Rebecca. Our narrator feels that everything she does is compared to Rebecca, a woman she feels she couldn't possibly complete with.
Danvers really does surreptitiously plant the seed of discourse in the narrators mind, is she good enough for Maxim?
There is a lot more to the book than this, as she settles in to the house, a house still haunted by the spectre of Rebecca, more of Rebecca's life comes to light, will she ever be gone from their lives?
I love how this book has been re-covered for a new audience and I hope that it attracts a lot of new readers and fans! I really enjoyed it, it is incredibly atmospheric. In France you feel the sunshine radiating from the pages but as soon as they hit Manderley, the fog and dark rolls in.
This is one of the books you should read at least once in your life, a classic not to be overlooked!
Thank you to Little Brown (Virago) for sending me a copy in exchange for a honest review