AUTHOR: Daphne du Maurier
RATING: ★★★★★ (5/5)
It's been a great week for reading but not a great one for writing. It's that time of the year where I freak out and begin ploughing through every single book I can, and forgot that I have blogs to run, universities to apply for and lines to learn for a pantomime. But who cares when Halloween is coming up?
We're firmly in the clutches of our Love Through The Ages module at college, and as a link into the theme of jealousy, we were instructed to read the novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I was excited to start this book for a number of reasons; one, it's my mothers favourite book, and two, I'm firmly aware that everyone who's read it has come away calling it an 'absolute classic.'
Rebecca is a novel full of everything any reader could ever want. Love, death, marriage, mystery, gothic horror. How du Maurier managed to wrap it all up into a single novel is beyond me, but she's done it, and the result is one of the best books to come out of the twentieth century. I believe this is what makes the novel so engaging, there isn't one singular theme that runs through-out, rather, there's a selection of them which all merge into one, creating a forest of plot twists and characters which you easily get engrossed in.
What caught me first about the novel was the sophistication of the narrative. The first chapter is a classic example of the way you're supposed to start of a novel. Metaphors, similes, personification everywhere you look. But the good thing about it is that it isn't being forced, all of these language techniques fit together with fluency, and it brings the first scene to life.
It's rather unusual because the opening of the novel is set in a dream, hence the famous first line, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderely again." But this takes nothing away, because she makes us question what Manderley is, and why it's like this.
The characters are written to perfection. The unnamed narrator sparks curiosity the moment we meet her. Why can't we know her name? Though she's naive, young and often embarrassing through-out the course of the book, she acts as a guide and entertainer. I found myself screaming at the pages and telling her what to do and what not to do. She's one of those characters you can't hate or love, simply because she represents traits everyone likes and loathes. Maxim is a hero-villain who's haunted by his past. He is sweet, loving and handsome, everything we'd want in a husband. Of course, it doesn't help that he's played by the lovely Laurence Olivier in the film adaptation. But he's still trying to get rid of the ghosts of his past which gives him a sharp edge that we don't expect.
Then there's the mysteriousness of the title. Rebecca. Who is Rebecca? Why do we have a face without a name, and now a name without a face? What does the name symbolise, and what connection does she have with the characters we have come to admire?
There is so much going on with the book, yet it's impossible to lose track. You are sucked in by the glorious opening, and are then the property of the characters; they will not let you go. The novel has so many twists and turns, so many themes and genres, it's hard to categorise it at all. Perhaps this is why it achieved the success it did, because it grasped out to so many readers.
It is hard to find a fault with this book. I often am able to criticise something, even if it is picky and mediocre. I can't with Rebecca. It is perfect in every way. As you may have assumed, it's become one of my favourite books of all time, and I only hope it doesn't get discarded under piles of soppy romance books in the years to come.
Defining a novel to do with Love Through The Ages is hard, but I think I'm on my way to developing a good wider reading backlog. Since Rebecca I have read The Reader and am currently reading Jane Eyre to be followed by Lolita and The Great Gatsby. There are so many books for me to write about, not including the ones I have finished lately, Doctor Sleep and The House of Hades. I am extremely excited for the former, but I'll be discussing that in detail next time.
Thanks for reading!