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Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
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Rebecca (original 1938; edition 1962)

by Daphne du Maurier

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
13,478399161 (4.22)3 / 1381
Member:chrisharpe
Title:Rebecca
Authors:Daphne du Maurier
Info:Penguin (1962), Paperback, 376 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:Itziar's

Work details

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

  1. 304
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (chrisharpe, fannyprice, ladybug74, HollyMS)
    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.
    HollyMS: 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. 182
    My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (HollyMS, EllieH)
    HollyMS: Daphne Du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel has a similar theme as Rebecca.
  3. 143
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (citygirl)
  4. 100
    Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier (katie4098)
  5. 90
    The Woman in White (Penguin Classics) by Wilkie Collins (starfishian)
  6. 80
    The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier (lois1)
  7. 60
    Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (kiwiflowa, lahochstetler)
  8. 50
    Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore (Sylak)
    Sylak: Another saga set against a hauntingly beautiful landscape - but this time its in Exmoor.
  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
    Don't Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier (Z-Ryan, cometahalley)
  12. 51
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (DaraBrooke)
  13. 84
    Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt (kraaivrouw, FutureMrsJoshGroban, nu-bibliophile)
  14. 30
    Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart (nu-bibliophile)
  15. 31
    A Sucessora by Carolina Nabuco (HollyMS)
    HollyMS: 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.
  16. 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
  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)

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Showing 1-5 of 384 (next | show all)
Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca is a superbly crafted, beautifully written, and expertly paced gothic mystery, perhaps the finest by this great master of suspense. Maxim de Winter, the wealthy forty-ish owner of the magnificent Manderley estate in Cornwall, still tormented by the recent tragic death of his beautiful and sophisticated wife Rebecca, remarries a kind though inexperienced, shy, and insecure woman half his age of no background, no social standing, and no foreseeable prospects - in short, a nobody. Indeed, throughout the novel she is never mentioned by name; she is only the second "Mrs. de Winter", underscoring that only for the marriage to Maxim has she become somebody. With her as narrator, du Maurier gives the reader a deep insight into the inner machinations of her fears, neuroses, and paranoia; her mind endlessly flitting forward and back, wondering what mysteries lay in the past, worrying and imagining what others say and think of her, and what troubles may lie ahead. Barely equipped to handle her former life as a mere companion to a rich older woman, the second Mrs. De Winter is now thrust into the bewildering complex world of the opulent and intimidating Manderley and new social pressures, with a husband she barely knows - and under the massive shadow still cast by the Rebecca, omnipresent though deceased. As she learns more about Manderley, the circumstances surrounding Rebecca's death, and the secrets behind Maxim's dark brooding, the suspense rapidly builds through twists and turns until the haunting finish. ( )
  ghr4 | Jun 22, 2017 |
I could see Maxim standing at the foot of the stairs, laughing, shaking hands, turning to someone who stood by his side, tall and slim, with dark hair, said the bishop's wife, dark hair against a white face, someone whose quick eyes saw to the comfort of her guests, who gave an order over her shoulder to a servant, someone who was never awkward, never without grace, who when she danced left a stab of perfume in the air like a white azalea. [128]

Rebecca is a delicious read, and not so much for the story (as iconic as it's become) as for the writing, and the atmosphere, and that the pages almost turn of themselves and yet if I allow myself time to pause, think for a moment on what is unfolding, questions surface, pointing to things not so obvious. Du Maurier is clever enough that there aren't contradictions so much as there are gaps, we can fill them in a number of ways equally fitting and persuasive. Primarily these have to do with what sort of people are these characters. Du Maurier seems quite content to let us think about it, there isn't necessarily a given answer.

The choice of narrator is key for the story. We know very little about the past, and the confusion about Rebecca and Maxim is crucial to the mood. We also get sucked into rooting for a confessed murderer, though this isn't completely successful due to the less-than-compelling personalities involved. Highsmith's Ripley came to mind, there's a broadly comparable set-up but a much different path taken, though I wondered more than once whether one character or another would veer around before the end.

Some broad parallels between the protagonist here (never named) and Mary Yellan in Jamaica Inn. I found Mary more sympathetic and easier to root for, but the naïveté they share is a strong character trait for each. As with Jamaica Inn, du Maurier is a convincing naturalist, her descriptions of Cornwall and the coast are masterful but always fit the action. And again, I am tempted to revisit the Hitchcock adaptation ... am I correct in thinking Favell is omitted entirely?

It doesn't make for sanity, does it, living with the devil? [277]

//

Re-screening Hitchcock's 1940 film, it's unsurprising the screenplay tightens the focus: the action could take place over a few days rather than months. Favell is not omitted, of course, memorably played by George Sanders. And Mrs Danvers is, if anything, more menacing here. A key change is having the second Mrs de Winter stay at Manderley while the men interview Dr Baker, leaving Frank with Maxim on the return. It heightens the danger of the fire, and clearly depicts Danvers' role in arson, suggesting Rebecca has her direst influence upon not Maxim, but Danvers. ( )
1 vote elenchus | Jun 12, 2017 |
Can the second Mrs. Max de Winter replace the memory of the first mistress of Manderley, Rebecca? A classic of suspense.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Jun 12, 2017 |
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." This book opens with a big prose hot fudge Sunday, a toasty warm and sweetly cool confection. Tasty little ts punctuate that first sentence, tripping along, drawing us into the book and into the painterly opening images of the hauntingly beautiful Manderley estate. We are drawn in to a plot that then smoothly pulls us along, slowly building the tension. The world of Manderley is a world that is too perfect seen through a narrator who is not perfect enough, and somewhere between the perfection and the failings, carefully laid out, we find the pace starts to quicken and the tension builds. Suddenly, with a quick twist, a volta if you will, that world changes, day becomes night, and we must rethink everything. The pacing is masterful, and one of the great pleasures of the book is just letting the words just take you along for the ride.

Rebecca is a classic to both readers and moviegoers, and reading the book one quickly sees what drew Hitchcock in: the perfect pacing, the near-purple (puce?) prose, the characters who appear so expected yet, perhaps, are not, and, most of all, the questions and mystery left. Rebecca never appears in the book yet haunts every page and thought. One might read her into the shrubbery or the room decor, or find her long-gone spirit animating the otherwise dour Danny, or see her just beyond the margins, somehow manipulating the actual characters of the novel from out there.

The whole thing is simply a great show. ( )
5 vote A_musing | May 21, 2017 |
Okay, I am not a male chauvinist and I do not intend to hurt the 'feminine' feelings but I am somewhat compelled to say this book is written in a very schoolgirlish manner! The tiresome description of the protagonist's passionate true love towards her husband Maximillian de Winter wore me off, literally. She is always insecure and brittle as a plastic toy. She has the purest of hearts. It's amazing how the good guys are good in an angelic way and the bad guys are infernally BAD. They are always lurking in darkness to catch you off guard. When the good guys do something bad, they do it for the sake of goodness in the long run and the bad guys in an inexplicable way, keep doing the bad things to make themselves even 'badder'! The so called Gothic tale appeared to me as a cheesy love story and I surmised that 'Rebecca' could be one of the 'foremothers' of modern days' chick lit.

I started reading this book with great expectation (specially after seeing a rating of 4.16 out of 5 on goodreads) but it disappointed me greatly. It's famous for the psychological challenges the central character faces but these challenges occurred due to the ever insecure nature of that character. Often, the twists were given away, the plot became predictable and I felt like the places of suspense were rather imposed. What I liked about this novel was its dark tone. Daphne du Maurier maintained this tone throughout the novel nicely and created another world of 'Manderley'. A rather good book for travelling with when there's nothing much to enjoy outside the window of your vessel. ( )
  Shaker07 | May 18, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 384 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (134 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maurier, Daphne duprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tarner, MargaretRetold bymain 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.
Quotations
'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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