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Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Rebecca (original 1938; edition 1997)

by Daphne Du Maurier

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,821377180 (4.22)3 / 1328
Authors:Daphne Du Maurier
Info:Harper Paperbacks (1997), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Tags:2008 Read, Classic Literature, Gothic Literature, British Literature, BEST of 2008, MUST READ

Work details

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

  1. 294
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (chrisharpe, fannyprice, ladybug74, Hollerama)
    chrisharpe: There are some similarities between these two books: a young woman marries an older widower and moves to his mansion, where the marriage is challenged by the unearthly presence of the first wife.
    fannyprice: These two books reminded me a lot of each other but Rebecca was more modern and somewhat less preachy.
    Hollerama: Since Rebecca was published, observers have noticed that it has parallels to Jane Eyre. Both are dark stories about young women who marry wealthy Englishmen.
  2. 171
    My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (Hollerama, EllieH)
    Hollerama: Daphne Du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel has a similar theme as Rebecca.
  3. 110
    Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (katie4098)
  4. 143
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (citygirl)
  5. 90
    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (starfishian)
  6. 70
    The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier (lois1)
  7. 60
    Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore (Sylak)
    Sylak: Another saga set against a hauntingly beautiful landscape - but this time its in Exmoor.
  8. 60
    Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (kiwiflowa, lahochstetler)
  9. 50
    Thornyhold by Mary Stewart (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Although I believe that du Maurier was the better writer, Thornyhold and many others by Mary Stewart give the same suspenseful feeling.
  10. 72
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (teelgee)
  11. 40
    Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart (nu-bibliophile)
  12. 84
    Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt (kraaivrouw, FutureMrsJoshGroban, nu-bibliophile)
  13. 41
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (DaraBrooke)
  14. 30
    Don't Look Now by Daphne du Maurier (Z-Ryan, cometahalley)
  15. 20
    Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust (bjappleg8)
    bjappleg8: first person narrative; ambiguous supernatural elements; slow unravelling of a mystery in a historical British setting
  16. 31
    A sucessora by Carolina Nabuco (Hollerama)
    Hollerama: When Rebecca came out, there were accusations that Daphne du Maurier had plagiarized A sucessora (The Sucessor) by Brazilian author Carolina Nabuco. Read it and decide for yourself.
  17. 10
    Vanishing Cornwall by Daphne du Maurier (Z-Ryan)
  18. 10
    Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim (bell7)
  19. 10
    Yes, My Darling Daughter by Margaret Leroy (WildMaggie)
  20. 00
    The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas (generalkala)

(see all 31 recommendations)

1930s (6)

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English (362)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  German (3)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (377)
Showing 1-5 of 362 (next | show all)
Rebecca was the first Mrs de Winter, who died tragically in an accident. The story's first-person, unnamed narrator is her successor, whose namelessness highlights the way that Rebecca's memory constantly overshadows her. She hasn't the talent or instinct to take possession of the Manderley estate or her new role, and the consequence is that she always feels her inferiority, metaphorically haunted by the spectre of Rebecca at every turn. At least, that's how it begins. This is a novel that offers greater rewards when you know less in advance.

Daphne du Maurier sold me on her talent within the first fifty pages, with brilliantly astute comparisons between youth and middle-age, observations on first love, and on the sweet pains of memory and its association with place. These drop away as the narrator becomes more distant and the tone alters when suspense comes into play. The 2nd Mrs de Winter is a victim of frustrating timidity and frequent daydreaming, and the novel seems listless at determining its genre - but both of these faults are startlingly revealed as virtues. There are no rules in literature, only technique. ( )
1 vote Cecrow | Aug 15, 2016 |
Review can also be found in Chill and read

Back in 1938, Daphne du Maurier wrote a novel that has become a classic. It is the story of three people. The deceased Rebecca, her mourning husband Maxim de Winter and a young woman, the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter, who is also the narrator.

The young woman works as a lady’s companion and she definitely knows her place. She founds herself in Monte Carlo where she meets the handsome de Winter as he spends some time away from Manderley, his home, and the painful memories of his wife’s loss. The American woman she accompanies has heard all the gossips about that story and dies to get to know Mr. de Winter. The American gets ill and so the other two have plenty of time to spend together, until one day, de Winter proposes to the young woman and they get married! They spend their honeymoon in Italy and after some time they decide to go back to Manderley.

There, our heroine, found more that the building, the gardens, the servants and the dreadful sinister, Mrs. Danvers. The memory of Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife is still alive. Her bedroom has remained unchanged, her clothes are still waiting for her and Mrs. Danvers is still loyal to her. Furthermore, Maxim is no longer the man she met in Monte Carlo and married few months ago. He does not express his love and affection as she would expected. He is cold and typical. Obviously, his first wife is still in his mind, holding a large piece of it… Everyone speaks about Rebecca. How nice and beautiful she was. How she liked everyone. How she always knew the right subject to discuss with different people.

Day by day, the lovely romance starts to fade. Fear becomes her night and day companion. Fear and uncertainty. She loves Maxim too much to hold on, but how much longer can she take? Everyone loughs at her and compares her to Rebecca. Everything around her, shout the dead woman’s name. The house, the furniture, the gardens, the little cottage at the shore, where she used to keep her sailing boat, the one that took her to the bottom of the sea.

“The shadow of this woman darkened their love.”

Alfred Hitchcock saw something on this book and made it into a movie in 1940. Laurence Olivier played Maxim de Winter and Joane Fontain was the second Mrs. de Winter. Judith Anderson was Mrs. Danvers.

To have a taste, check the film’s official page. ( )
  GeorgiaKo | Aug 4, 2016 |
This classic novel opens with the words, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again". An innocent young woman working as a companion in Monte Carlo receives a proposal from Maxim, a wealthy widower whose first wife died in a boating accident. After they are wed she accompanies him to his Cornwall mansion, the remote Manderley. There she meets his housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, who is still devoted to Maxim's first wife, Rebecca. Mrs Danvers plays mind games with Maxim's new wife, undermining and sabotaging her whenever possible and always comparing her with the 'perfect' Rebecca. One day a diver investigating a shipwreck discovers the remains of Rebecca's boat, with her body still on board, and Maxim confesses the truth about Rebecca to his new wife.

Wonderfully written and compelling. I am extremely glad that I have finally read this classic and I would read it again. Highly recommended. ( )
  DebbieMcCauley | Jun 29, 2016 |
This book is masterfully written. I could envision what the characters saw...what they looked like (I haven't seen the movie, assuming they've made one). The end blindsided me. I didn't see it coming! If you like intrigue, don't pass over this oldie-but-goodie. ( )
  BonitaMartin | Jun 24, 2016 |

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I’m still uncertain as to how it captured my attention, even more how it managed to keep it. I really liked the eponymous character better than the actual alive protagonist or her husband. She’s Morgan le fay kind of wild woman, free and powerful and too dangerous to apprehend. So she has to die, obviously.
( )
  askajnaiman | Jun 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 362 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (96 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maurier, Daphne duprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beauman, SallyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burnett, VirgilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Massey, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stibolt, HelenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vasara, HelviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
'You see,' she said, snapping the top, and walking down the stairs, 'you are so very different from Rebecca.'
We came to Manderley in early May, arriving, so Maxim said, with the first swallows and the bluebells. It would be the best moment, before the full flush of summer, and in the valley the azaleas would be prodigal of scent and the blood-red rhododendrons in bloom.
Forget it, Mrs. de Winter, forget it, as he has done, thank heaven, and the rest of us. We none of us want to bring back the past, Maxim least of all. And it's up to you, you know, to lead us away from it. Not to take us back there again.
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.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
"Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again..."

So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. Working as a lady's companion, she learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proprosal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. 

With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten... her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant -- the sinister Mrs. Danvers -- still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca... for the secrets of Manderley.
Haiku summary
Nameless narrator

marries wealthy widower;

haunting Rebecca.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380730405, Paperback)

With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten—a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife—the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.

This special edition of Rebecca includes excerpts from Daphne du Maurier's The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories, an essay on the real Manderley, du Maurier's original epilogue to the book, and more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:11 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The second Mrs. Maxim de Winter finds it difficult and frightening to live in the shadow of her predecessor, a situation that is exacerbated by her husband's moodiness, and the presence of sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers.

(summary from another edition)

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