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Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca (original 1938; edition 2002)

by Daphne du Maurier

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,170349207 (4.22)3 / 1278
Authors:Daphne du Maurier
Info:Perfection Learning (2002), Hardcover
Collections:Read, Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:1001 Books

Work details

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

  1. 264
    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. 132
    The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield (citygirl)
  4. 100
    Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (katie4098)
  5. 70
    The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier (lois1)
  6. 81
    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (starfishian)
  7. 60
    Lorna Doone by Richard Doddridge 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. 40
    Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart (nu-bibliophile)
  11. 84
    Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt (kraaivrouw, FutureMrsJoshGroban, nu-bibliophile)
  12. 30
    Don't Look Now by Daphne du Maurier (Z-Ryan, cometahalley)
  13. 52
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (teelgee)
  14. 41
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (DaraBrooke)
  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)
Unread books (1,036)

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English (333)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  German (3)  Italian (3)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (348)
Showing 1-5 of 333 (next | show all)
I don't read many classic novels and prefer to read modern literature, thus I wasn't excited to read this book for book club, so I decided to listen to the abridged audiobook. I don't know how much of the story I missed since it was abridged, but in the end, I enjoyed it more than I anticipated (although it probably helped that I had low expectations). I found the narrator annoying and the first half of the book really boring, but at the end the events of the novel really picked up and I became engrossed in the story and mystery and enjoyed the story. ( )
  beckyface | Nov 22, 2015 |
I love this book. This was a reread for me and I have to say, I enjoyed it even more the second time around. The author has an incredible gift for description and from that infamous opening line you are completely sucked into the world of Manderley and the de Winters.

Manderley is the beautiful home of widower Maxim de Winter. The entire story is told from the point-of-view of his new young wife. It's eerie and wonderfully scary, but not in an obvious way. The young woman is completely intimidated by the memory of her predecessor, Rebecca de Winter. The former lady of the house died, but her tastes and influence is etched on every inch of Manderley.

I can’t overstate the importance of tone in this novel. There’s a growing sense of claustrophobia and fear as the new Mrs. De Winter slowly peels back the layers of Manderly’s secrets. The young bride completely out of her element at the huge country manor. Mrs. Danvers is the servant who runs the house but she remains loyal to the deceased Rebecca. Our narrator can’t help but compare all of her actions and decisions to the idealistic Rebecca, shrouded in perfection now that she’s died.

One of the most notable details of this novels is that the whole thing is told from one woman’s point-of-view, but throughout the whole novel we never learn her name. She's occasionally referred to as the new Mrs. de Winter, but we never learn her first name. The focus is always on her relationship with Maxim,

Rebecca’s memory, Mrs. Danvers, etc, we know very little of her as a person. It’s a fascinating lens through which to see the story unfold.

BOTTOM LINE: Read it! It's considered a gothic mystery and if that's something you enjoy at all, then this one should be right up your alley.

Side note: My favorite Hitchcock movie is based on this novel and stars Laurence Olivier as Maxim. It's so good! ( )
  bookworm12 | Nov 18, 2015 |
Rebecca starts in an anti-climax mode, where life is boring and repetitive, far away from Mandeley, the grand mansion of the past. Something destructive and almost too dramatic to bear occurred there - but what? The narrator, whose name we never discover, is a meek young thing, with a ghostly, fluid identity, especially earlier on. As a paid companion to an insufferable older woman in Monte Carlo, she meets a famous upper class owner of the Manderley estate, and quickly falls in love with him, despite him being old enough to be her father, and his aloofness. He proposes to her after just a few weeks, and she soon finds herself the mistress of Manderley itself. Totally out of her depth, she doesn't know how to act in this very posh place with its army of servants, and is overwhelmed by the guests that flood through its doors. Two details further impinge on her ability. First her new husband's first wife, Rebecca, although dead a year, is everywhere she looks, in the furniture, habits of her staff and, she suspects, constantly in the thoughts of her husband. Second, the formidable, sinister housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, seems not only to secretly despise this new interloper, but to be rather unhinged herself. As the novel unfolds, we discover more of the powerful tendrils of Rebecca from beyond the grave, and how exactly she died. In the process, the new wife slowly discovers her strength and the true character of her husband.

On the surface, with murders and affairs everywhere you look, along with a gothic atmosphere, the book reads a little like a combination of the best pulp fiction novel crossed with a classic 19th century novel, such as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. But there are hidden depths here that give it a unique and rich voice to itself. The narrator is consumed by a fascinating over-active imagination, which borders at times on stream of consciousness. Her dreams and fantasies pepper the book with vivid detail, as do her paranoid fears about how Rebecca will always be her husband's true love.

Rebecca as a character is fascinating too in her utter darkness - the extent of her manipulation and the way she behaves with no scruples whatsoever. Mrs Danvers, the housekeeper, has a little of this darkness most definitely. She revels in Rebecca's evil antics and, to some degree, emulates her. But she is not as strong, so the are kinks in her armour, which make her all the more interesting.

The mystery of the book, and the interactions of the boldly painted characters, make it compulsive reading, a vivid, wild story, masterfully told. ( )
  RachDan | Nov 18, 2015 |
Beatrice Lacy needs her own book. ( )
  lunaluxor | Oct 29, 2015 |
This book was outstanding! ( )
  ColinThompson | Oct 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 333 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (47 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maurier, Daphne duprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beauman, SallyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burnett, VirgilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Massey, AnnaNarratorsecondary 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.
Frank knew, but Maxim did not know that he knew. And Frank did not want Maxim to know that he knew. And we all stood there, looking at one another, keeping up these little barriers between us.
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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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)

» see all 21 descriptions

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