How on earth can I follow this book? This wondrous, surprising and thrilling book. Rebecca has been on my shelves for 3 years now, untouched, unread but with an odd aura. It was recommended by one of my favourite teachers in university, who seemed to turn everything she touched into gold. I only wish now that I could have heard her thoughts on it, as I’m sure they would have been eye-opening and so clever. One of my closest friends also enjoyed it, but I was unprepared for how much I would fall in love with it.
Firstly, let me remark that I do not enjoy classics very often. In my post about my Classics Challenge, I did mention that I geared more toward modern classics, as I find them much more readable. I guess being written in the 30’s makes Rebecca a modern classic, so here we go again! I was doubly motivated to read this because Andi from Estella’s Revenge and I decided to read it together. Though she finished much quicker than I did, we both gave the book 5 stars and have been gushing via Twitter for the past few days.
Rebecca is the story of an unnamed narrator, who works as a paid companion to a rather unpleasant woman. On vacation in Monte Carlo, she meets the wealthy, handsome and recently widowed, Maxim de Winter; owner of one of the most stunning estates in England: Manderly. When Maxim proposes to her rather spontaneously, our narrator is swept into a world she knows nothing of: a world of parties, servants, and of comparisons. But not many comparisons. Just one. Just to Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife who drown in the sea near Manderly only 10 months before. Rebecca was beautiful, wildly charming and loved by all, especially the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers.
I wondered at how this book was being so widely loved, when it sounded like not much happened. The synopsis on Goodreads, or even the back of the book does not do the novel justice. There is absolutely no boring chapter in this entire book! I loved it. I let each gorgeous phrase soak in, and though I adored it and wanted to know what happened, I took my sweet time turning the pages. I couldn’t believe how perfect the twists and turns in the plot were, and I was caught off guard by the big reveal at the end. This is one of those books that will stand up to re-reading, time and time again. I may actually FINALLY re-read something for once!
For me, Rebecca‘s most profound accomplishment was the phenomenal cast of characters. There are quite a few, but they are so well depicted that I never got them mixed up. And Manderly! This old Gothic estate is a character in itself: a gorgeous, massive home on the sea with east and west wings that made me think of Beauty and the Beast. If you happen to read the edition that I read, there is a particularly interesting essay at the end of the book detailing some of the underlying themes. I can’t discuss it because it will reveal too much, but granted it will provide some context to a few things you will probably begin to contemplate as you read!
I read Rebecca slowly, coming into work every morning and telling my coworker (who happens to adore the book) which part I was at. She would let me hypothesize and catalogue all my observations and any plot predictions I could think of. She would smile and nod and reveal nothing, but now I know why she has read this book four times over. We also discussed the Alfred Hitchcock film, retelling the tale with a few alterations. I have yet to watch it, but know what I will be doing this weekend!
If you enjoy Gothic stories, thrillers, or even just gorgeously written tales, Rebecca is a must-read. It has made it’s way to my favourites shelf and I doubt I will get these characters out of my head anytime soon! There is a reason so many love this amazing story!
Stay tuned for video reviews from both Andi and I in the near future :).