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"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again..."

Ancient, beautiful Manderley, between the rose garden and the sea, is the county's showpiece. Rebecca made it so - even a year after her death, Rebecca's influence still rules there. How can Maxim de Winter's shy new bride ever fill her place or escape her vital shadow?

A shadow that grows longer and darker as the brief summer fades, until, in a moment of climatic revelations, it threatens to eclipse Manderley and its inhabitants completely...

449 pages, ebook

First published August 1, 1938

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About the author

Daphne du Maurier

331 books8,728 followers
Daphne du Maurier was born on 13 May 1907 at 24 Cumberland Terrace, Regent's Park, London, the middle of three daughters of prominent actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and actress Muriel, née Beaumont. In many ways her life resembles a fairy tale. Born into a family with a rich artistic and historical background, her paternal grandfather was author and Punch cartoonist George du Maurier, who created the character of Svengali in the 1894 novel Trilby, and her mother was a maternal niece of journalist, author, and lecturer Comyns Beaumont. She and her sisters were indulged as a children and grew up enjoying enormous freedom from financial and parental restraint. Her elder sister, Angela du Maurier, also became a writer, and her younger sister Jeanne was a painter.

She spent her youth sailing boats, travelling on the Continent with friends, and writing stories. Her family connections helped her establish her literary career, and she published some of her early work in Beaumont's Bystander magazine. A prestigious publishing house accepted her first novel when she was in her early twenties, and its publication brought her not only fame but the attentions of a handsome soldier, Major (later Lieutenant-General Sir) Frederick Browning, whom she married.

She continued writing under her maiden name, and her subsequent novels became bestsellers, earning her enormous wealth and fame. Many have been successfully adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca, Frenchman's Creek, My Cousin Rachel, and Jamaica Inn, and the short stories The Birds and Don't Look Now/Not After Midnight. While Alfred Hitchcock's films based upon her novels proceeded to make her one of the best-known authors in the world, she enjoyed the life of a fairy princess in a mansion in Cornwall called Menabilly, which served as the model for Manderley in Rebecca.

Daphne du Maurier was obsessed with the past. She intensively researched the lives of Francis and Anthony Bacon, the history of Cornwall, the Regency period, and nineteenth-century France and England. Above all, however, she was obsessed with her own family history, which she chronicled in Gerald: A Portrait, a biography of her father; The du Mauriers, a study of her family which focused on her grandfather, George du Maurier, the novelist and illustrator for Punch; The Glassblowers, a novel based upon the lives of her du Maurier ancestors; and Growing Pains, an autobiography that ignores nearly 50 years of her life in favour of the joyful and more romantic period of her youth. Daphne du Maurier can best be understood in terms of her remarkable and paradoxical family, the ghosts which haunted her life and fiction.

While contemporary writers were dealing critically with such subjects as the war, alienation, religion, poverty, Marxism, psychology and art, and experimenting with new techniques such as the stream of consciousness, du Maurier produced 'old-fashioned' novels with straightforward narratives that appealed to a popular audience's love of fantasy, adventure, sexuality and mystery. At an early age, she recognised that her readership was comprised principally of women, and she cultivated their loyal following through several decades by embodying their desires and dreams in her novels and short stories.

In some of her novels, however, she went beyond the technique of the formulaic romance to achieve a powerful psychological realism reflecting her intense feelings about her father, and to a lesser degree, her mother. This vision, which underlies Julius, Rebecca and The Parasites, is that of an author overwhelmed by the memory of her father's commanding presence. In Julius and The Parasites, for example, she introduces the image of a domineering but deadly father and the daring subject of incest.

In Rebecca, on the other hand, du Maurier fuses psychological realism with a sophisticated version of the Cinderella story. The nameless heroine has

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Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 6 books250k followers
December 1, 2019
”Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again".

This is one of the more famous lines in literature certainly it belongs in the same conversation as Call me Ishmael. Even to people who have never read the book or seen the excellent movie by Alfred Hitchcock might have a glimmer of recognition at the mention of a place called Manderley. Daphne du Maurier leased a place called Menabilly which became the basis for the fictional Manderley. Aren’t we glad she changed the name? Just say Manderley a few times and then say Menabilly a few times. If you are like me you linger over the vowels and consonants of Manderley and with Menabilly you just want it off your tongue as quickly as possible.

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Daphne du Maurier on the staircase at Menabilly

The narrator, a young woman of 21, is never formally introduced to us. She is a companion for an odious American woman named Mrs. Van Hoppers. They are in Monte Carlo and when Mrs. Van Hoppers comes down with an illness inspired more by boredom than by a virus or bacteria our narrator finds herself free to spend time with the widower Maximilian de Winter. He is famous, but his house, Manderley is even more famous. Parties on a Gatsby scale, beautiful landscaping, and of course the architecture of a grand English estate have made Manderley a most coveted invitation.

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Laurence Olivier as Maximilian de Winter

After a whirlwind romance, the dashing de Winter sweeps the impressionable young lady off her feet, pries her loose from the services of Mrs. Van Hoppers, and marries her. He is distant, moody, and yet charming more like a father, he is 42, than a husband, but our young heroine is enamored with the idea of being the mistress of Manderley. Now she has a name, Mrs. de Winter, and maybe to add a bit of obscurity to an already anemic personality du Maurier never shares her given name with us.

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Daphne du Maurier and children at Menabilly the inspiration for Manderley

Daphne du Maurier comes from a famous family. Her grandfather was the famous writer and Punch cartoonist George du Maurier. Her father was a prominent stage manager named Sir Gerald du Maurier and her mother was the actress Muriel Beaumont. Daphne had ”breeding, brains, and beauty”which is used in reference to the character Rebecca as well, and luckily du Maurier chose to do more with this trilogy of assets than the character. Du Maurier married Lieutenant General Sir Frederick ‘Boy’ Browning whose exploits during Operation Market Garden were made into a film A Bridge too Far.

The newly minted Mrs. de Winter arrives at Manderley with nervous excitement. She is well aware of her shortcomings. She is too shy, too young, too trusting, and though she is pretty she can not compete with the legendary Rebecca de Winter and her haunting beauty.

”Rebecca, always Rebecca. Wherever I walked in Manderley, wherever I sat, even in my thought and in my dreams, I met Rebecca. I knew her figure now, the long slim legs, the small and narrow feet. Her shoulders broader than mine, the capable clever hands. Hands that could steer a boat, could hold a horse. Hands that arranged flowers, made the models of ships, and wrote ‘Max from Rebecca’ on the fly-leaf of a book. I knew her face too, small and oval, the clear white skin, the cloud of dark hair. I knew the scent she wore, I could guess her laughter and her smile. If I heard it, even among a thousand others, I should recognise her voice. Rebecca, always Rebecca. I should never be rid of Rebecca.”

Waiting for Mrs. de Winter is the number one fan and torchbearer of Rebecca, Mrs. Danvers. Despite the best efforts of our young lady, she is fighting a losing battle trying to win over Mrs. Danvers by being deferential. Mrs. Danvers is loyal to the ghostly presence of Rebecca even to the point of preserving her room and possessions as they were when she was alive. The more that the new Mrs. de Winter concedes the less respect she feels she has to show to the new mistress of the house.

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Mrs. Danvers played by Judith Anderson and Mrs. de Winter played by Joan Fontaine in the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock movie

”We stood there by the door, staring at one another. I could not take my eyes away from hers. How dark and sombre they were in that white skull’s face of hers, how malevolent, how full of hatred.”

You will feel yourself wanting to cheer as our heroine begins to gain confidence and as she begins to grow into her role we see Mrs. Danvers start to diminish and with her the haunting presence of Rebecca. Of course just as things start to go right, things start to go very wrong.

I was really surprised to learn that an edition of Rebecca was used as the key to a code book by the Germans during World War Two. It is not believed that the book was ever used for passing information because a captured radio section made the Germans suspect that the book, as a code, had been compromised. Ken Follett used this idea in his book The Key to Rebecca. Other influences of possibly du Maurier’s most famous character creation, show up in Stephen King’s Bag of Bones when Mrs. Danvers is portrayed as the boogeyman. Jasper Ffordes clones an army of Mrs. Danvers in his Thursday Next series that sends a chill down the backs of the characters of those books.

There is much made of flowers and landscaping in this book. The English do love their rose gardens and when my backyard is in full bloom it is without reservation that I can share how much pleasure looking at and moving among that bounty of blooms gives me.

”No wild flowers came in the house at Manderley. He had special cultivated flowers, grown for the house alone, in the walled garden. A rose was one of the few flowers, he said, that looked better picked than growing. A bowl of roses in a drawing-room had a depth of colour and scent they had not possessed in the open. There was something rather blowsy about roses in full bloom, something shallow and raucous, like women with untidy hair. In the house they became mysterious and subtle.”

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Daphne du Maurier

You will feel the building tension as du Maurier drops hints of something sinister surrounding the walls of Manderley. For me, the sign of a well written book is the fact that I was on the edge of my seat despite having watched the movie several times. I was ensnared by the plot, feeling the same anxiety for the characters that I would have if they had been living breathing creatures in my own sphere of the universe. The character studies explored in this book have turned out to be an important addition to the hall of fame of literary characters. You will not forget Mrs. Danver’s spiteful, insidious behavior or the tortured, Heathcliffesque Maximilian de Winter or the numerous supporting cast that adds color and substance to the shadows of the plot. If you like gothic romance with your cup of Earl Grey you will find this book an indispensable part of your library, kept ready to hand for those days when you want to be swept away from a dreary sky and a rain splattered window.

”The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.”

Check out my book and movie reviews at http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,542 reviews51.9k followers
April 10, 2023
Bump! Bump! Bump! Yes, I’m hitting my thick head to the wall for waiting for so long to read this masterpiece!

Two weeks ago I was so determined to start this book but then I decided I wasn’t mentally prepared to read something so intense! So I read a few romance, fantasy books.

But last night, as my husband was watching reruns of sport shows and my besties kept sending me texts to suggest me watch Massimo’s 365 days long adventures on Netflix, I moved to the bedroom,closing the curtains, opening a bottle of Cabernet. I wanted to take my time and enjoy every second of it. ( But eventually I couldn’t take my time.

The book was so good and I kept reading till 5 a.m, ignoring my husband’s snores, listening the chants of partying neighbors who were having“say goodbye to social distancing” theme party -idiots!!- And I have to admit the snoring sounds my husband made fitted so well with the gothic and eerie story rhythm: I fell off from the bed several times and screamed! The husband dearest murmured game scores at his sleep. So as you may imagine I had a memorable reading experience!


Some books are well deserved to be known as classics! This book truly deserves to be read several times because of its layered, well-crafted characters, slow high tension build, the ominous, breathtaking, gothic atmosphere of Manderley.

Most of you may know the story: you might have seen Hitchcock’s adaptation which has some differences with the book: like age of housekeeper Mrs. Danvers and Max De Vinter’s involvement with his first wife’s Rebacca’s death.

His second wife Mrs. De Winter (I really wonder her first name) shy, introvert lady steps into Manderley, her new home sweet home, is introduced to their intimidating housekeeper. But lately she understands she is just the other woman because Rebecca’s soul already conquered the house and her husband is still in love with his ex wife. Could she be killed and will she share the same destiny?

Yes, it will keep you in your toes and you will flip the pages as you wrap yourself up in your blanket tighter (I did exactly the same)to stop your uncontrollable shivering but you cannot put it down because the masochistic part of your brain forces you to face your fears and learn what’s gonna happen next!

I think this book already captivated a shiny place at my all time favorite top ten books list (I will change the name into top 100 because I keep adding more books!)

I’m returning to hit my head to the wall! I earned my punishment! I shouldn’t wait for reading it so long!

Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
634 reviews5,757 followers
January 10, 2024
Like a fine wine!

Rebecca is the story of a widower named Max de Winter who marries a young woman who is serving as a companion to a wealthy American woman. The new Mrs. de Winter arrives at her new home, Manderley, when she meets the waitstaff of the house. However, the ghost of Rebecca, the late Mrs. de Winter, still lingers, and the new Mrs. de Winter feels a bit wanting.

Rebecca is a slow moving book, but I found it rather delightful. It was unique in the sense that it addressed what one must feel coming into a new relationship with another party but also having to navigate all of the feelings surrounding how their late wife used to do things and trying to be respectful yet also understanding that this is your new home as well. My new favorite villain is Mrs. Danvers! She was just so perfect!

The author needed to use a greater variety of words, because Manderley must have been mentioned 200 times. Also, the word, "Mackintosh" was used so often that I had to investigate. It turns out to be a very long raincoat. It is now back in fashion so if you find yourself with an extra grand or two, you can dress up in a mackintosh and pretend that you are at Manderley.

For this reading, I practiced immersion reading (listening to the audio and also following along in the book). There was a short conversation between Mrs. de Winter and Frank that was missing (this is the Audible version); otherwise, I found the audiobook to be quite delightful.

Overall, an excellent example of modern gothic literature and perfect for those who enjoy a slow paced domestic thriller.

Another book from the 100 Books to Read Before You Die According to the BBC:

2024 Reading Schedule
Jan Middlemarch
Feb The Grapes of Wrath
Mar Oliver Twist
Apr Madame Bovary
May A Clockwork Orange
Jun Possession
Jul The Folk of the Faraway Tree Collection
Aug Crime and Punishment
Sep Heart of Darkness
Oct Moby-Dick
Nov Far From the Madding Crowd
Dec A Tale of Two Cities

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Profile Image for Matthew.
1,221 reviews9,555 followers
July 25, 2020
This has to be one of the best and most complete books I have ever read. Each element - plot, characters, twists, suspense, climax - all of it, perfect! If I had one criticism, it might be a slightly slow start, but with the awesome payoff, that is hardly worth mentioning.

The plot - I have to be honest, I judged a book by its cover and title. I thought, okay, "Rebecca", an elegant woman, a curly font, probably another cheesy classic romance. I'll read it because it is one you are supposed to read, but I doubt I will think it is great. I have never been so wrong. Mystery, intrigue, deception, subterfuge, twists, turns, misunderstandings, accusations, threats, etc. etc. etc. So much is happening in this story, and it is great!

The characters - each character plays their part very well. Because of the nature of the plot, you may not quite ever be sure who some of them really are - and, perhaps, you will be left to make some judgements on your own. Also, this book has two characters that are the essence of love to hate - one because they are a total a-hole, and the other because they are creepy as hell! I don't know what it is, but I often feel like authors frequently have a hard time getting easily hateable characters right. That is far from the case here - they are perfect!

Suspense and Mystery - I will keep this short to avoid spoilers. This book has about 7 big climaxes/revelations. Every second between those will have you on the edge of your seat. Others will catch you completely off guard. I can guarantee you will catch yourself holding your breath.

So, in summary, I loved it! It was great! Read it! Don't be like me and think "meh, a classic named Rebecca - probably boring" It is not! It is awesome!
Profile Image for Kelly.
889 reviews4,535 followers
June 18, 2007
This is it. THE delicious, curl up next to the fire under a blanket with tea book. THE windowsill on a rainy day with your pet book. THE stay up all night book. A chill goes down your spine (but in a good way!) while reading it. It is a masterpiece of gothic literature, the inheritor of the tradition of novels like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. I'd call it the 20th Century Jane Eyre, actually, with a modernist twist. It is written so that the characters and events come to seem quite believable in the context even while they slowly make the hairs on the back of your necks stand on end. Whether you're generally a fan of mystery, romance or thrillers, this book is quite simply a delicious read.
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
550 reviews173k followers
October 24, 2020
I struggled my way through the first half of this book despite really enjoying the writing style. To be honest it feels like nothing really happens in the first half and we're only given these very vague details to go off of, which is probably why I felt such a strong impact with the big reveals in the later half. I'll admit that I'm not sure if the pay off was worth it for me, but I still enjoyed different parts of the story none the less. I'm looking forward to watching the netflix adaptation soon as I almost feel like this story might be better suited for film in my opinion (don't hate me for saying that XD)
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 3 books83.3k followers
April 1, 2020

A woman, a man, another woman's shadow; a landscape, a house, a hidden history. These six elements have informed the gothic impulse from Udolpho and Jane Eyre to The Thirteenth Tale. Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca is crucial to the genre, for in it du Maurier simplified and organized these six elements, refining the narrative, concentrating the mythic, and enriching the ambiguity of her tale.

What du Maurier understood is that the heart of the romantic gothic is the struggle between two women, one waking up to a new life and one not content to remain a ghost. The man may be their conflicting goal, the house and landscape their arena, but it is the battle between these two women, for life and power and autonomy, that is the essence of the tale.

In Rebecca, the man is the haunted, moody Maxim de Winter who has married a never-named young woman--a naive paid companion--whom he has met during a recent stay in Monte Carlo. The two return to Maxim's ancestral estate of Manderley, but the new wife soon finds the old house and grounds--as well as the mind of her increasingly melancholy husband--dominated by the spirit of Rebecca, his dead first wife.

The author's simplifying genius resides in the fact that in Rebecca the spirit of the dead woman animates the house and the landscape and obsesses the man. Consequently, every attempt of the new Mrs. de Winter--the narrator--to adjust to the house and staff (including the daunting housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers), to explore the house and grounds, or to comprehend the past events that interfere with her present happiness are part of the novel's central struggle and its secret history. The second Mrs. de Winter's descriptions may be nuanced and leisurely, occasionally painful in their innocence, but every encounter, each exploration, brings us closer to the heart of the mystery of Rebecca and Manderley too.

Beside the exemplary construction of the narrative, the other things I liked most about the book were the detailed descriptions of Manderley, the lingering power of the first two chapters (the only two set in the present), and the intriguingly ambiguous fate of the narrator of the novel, the second Mrs. de Winter, the woman with no name.

One of the guilty pleasures of a good gothic is the description of a magnificent old house, so precise and rich in detail that you can fantasize about how delightful--or how scary--living in such a mansion might be. Manderly is a place that comes alive for the reader, and it is particularly pleasant to have it described to us by a person who is experiencing it--and attempting to master it--for the first time.

The first chapter is justly famous for the narrator's account of a dream in which she returns to the now ruined Manderley estate. Its description of overgrown nature reclaiming the martyred grandeur of Manderley is an expertly executed mood piece, inaugurating the narrative as effectively as any opening passage in literature. (I do not exclude my favorites: the first scene of Hamlet, the first chapter of Bleak House, and the description of the Sternwood mansion in the first pages of The Big Sleep).

Personally, though, I find the second chapter of the book even more interesting. It describes Maxim and the narrator--who now calls the two of them "happy"--as they live their life on the continent in a series of hotels. But something about our narrator's description strikes me as inexpressibly sad: the two of them sound to me like an affluent, aging couple, frittering their final years away on superficial pleasures and trivial pastimes. Yet the wife, the woman who is telling us this--we find out later--is now barely in her thirties. Could this indeed be "happiness"? This question continued to haunt me throughout my reading of the book, and even now affects my shifting impressions of its themes.

I ask myself, weeks after finishing this novel, what is the narrator's fate? Has she achieved a certain degree of happiness--however modest--having triumphed over the dominating Rebecca, having gained the haunted Maxim for her own? Has she merely accepted the empty social forms and dull routine that Rebecca--whatever her sins might have been--was fighting so furiously against? Or is she "happy"--the interpretation I currently flirt with--because she, in her passive-aggressive way, dominates Maxim in his reduced state more thoroughly than Rebecca ever could? Even so, isn't such happiness inferior to the promise she once showed briefly, when she believed she could still be mistress of Manderley--after Rebecca's ghost had been exorcised, before she learned their world had burned down?

I don't know the answers to these questions, and I must say I like it that way. For me, at least, the novel will always be haunted by ambiguities, and that is a good thing. It is one of the reasons I find Rebecca such a rich, rewarding work.
Profile Image for emma.
2,113 reviews67k followers
January 11, 2024
As far as Spooky Scary Suspense books go, this is a B-, but in terms of HGTV novelizations this is the best in the business.

(What’s that glowing on the horizon? Oh, it’s the pitchfork-toting angry mob ready to burn me at the stake for comparing this masterpiece of fiction to a television channel about what happens when you subject real estate agents to couples six months away from divorcing who seem unable to understand how money relates to the acquisition of residences.)

What I’m saying is: for me, this story is not particularly action-packed or exciting. What it does have is one of the best settings of all time. Also, gorgeous writing.

An acceptable compromise.

In case you have been living under a rock since August 1938, or have specifically been avoiding all mentions of literary classics and Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography, I will provide a brief synopsis of this book.

Rebecca follows our nameless narrator, a poor girl who goes from being the lady-in-waiting (or something) to a very unpleasant woman to being the second wife of a rich man. (Same thing, am I right? Buh dum ch!) Said rich man is Maxim de Winter, who lives in the bestestest place in all England: Manderley.

Sounds like the jackpot, no? Except for the fact that good ol’ Max’s first wife, Rebecca, is (mysteriously) dead, and also according to everyone was wayyy better than our friend the narrator. Plus the creepy housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, is obsessed with Rebecca.


I won’t lie, Mrs. Danvers did creep me out a time or two. And while I found some minor plot points to be very predictable, some of the bigger ones still surprised me. So yes, the romance was totally meh for me, and yes, the story took me a while to get into (as in more than half the book), but it was far from a wash.

And that’s before you take into account how beautifully written and immersive and gorgeously described this is. Manderley really is like a character . And I liked our little nameless narrator too. Even though she drove me crazy with secondhand embarrassment every other page.

Bottom line: This is legendary for a reason. (Pretend like my opinion on that matters. As if this isn’t already cemented among the great works of all time.)


if you'll excuse me, i'll be laying down in a dark room for the next 4-6 business days.

review to come / 4 stars

currently-reading updates

i am ready to be SPOOKED. i am ready to be SHOCKED. i am ready to be DAZZLED by BEAUTIFUL LANGUAGE
Profile Image for Candi.
655 reviews4,978 followers
November 26, 2016
Oh, how I wish I could rewind the past month and start all over again! Then I could pick up Rebecca and experience this breathtaking novel once more as if for the first time. Truth be told, this wasn’t actually my first time reading this quintessential piece of classic gothic literature. However, I am ashamed to say that the number of years that have passed between my first reading and this recent one, combined with what I like to call a lingering case of ‘momnesia’, effectively rendered this reading very much like a first time. For that I am actually grateful, because I completely immersed and surrendered myself to the beautiful writing of the remarkably talented Daphne du Maurier.

The unnamed narrator is an inexperienced and insecure young woman with not much of a future to speak of – unless becoming a companion to an overbearing busybody by the name of Mrs. Van Hopper could be called a promising prospect! So when the handsome, mysterious and wealthy Maxim de Winter seems to take an interest and offers a much more enticing alternative – that of being his wife – what is a girl to do but accept?! The honeymoon at an end, the newly married couple returns to Manderley, Max de Winter’s estate. Manderley itself is a major character in this novel. I could sense it almost as a living, breathing entity; the descriptions of this magnificent place were so masterfully crafted. I felt as if I were sitting right there with Mrs. de Winter as she approached Manderley for the first time.

"Suddenly I saw a clearing in the dark drive ahead, and a patch of sky, and in a moment the dark trees had thinned, the nameless shrubs had disappeared, and on either side of us was a wall of colour, blood-red, reaching far above our heads. We were amongst the rhododendrons. There was something bewildering, even shocking, about the suddenness of their discovery. The woods had not prepared me for them. They startled me with their crimson faces, massed one upon the other in incredible profusion, showing no leaf, no twig, nothing but the slaughterous red, luscious and fantastic, unlike any rhododendron plant I had seen before… these were monsters, rearing to the sky, massed like a battalion, too beautiful I thought, too powerful; they were not plants at all."

Rhododendrons, Red, Rebecca… She is everywhere. The second Mrs. de Winter (the only name by which she will ever be identified) had not expected the ceaseless competition from the deceased first Mrs. de winter, Rebecca - Rebecca with a capital R written with such confidence, a confidence that even transcends death. She lingers in the morning-room, she lurks in the gallery, she tarries in the cottage by the beach. But most of all, Rebecca dwells within the minds of everyone living in the West Country along the rugged coast of England. Max de Winter becomes a brooding and aloof husband once back within the clutches of Manderley and Rebecca’s memory. The new Mrs. de Winter is tormented by her own fantasies of this formidable adversary. Since the novel is cleverly written from the perspective of this naïve young woman, the reader becomes intimate with the psychological turmoil she endures. She is also subject to the criticism and malice of the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. Mrs. Danvers worshiped Rebecca during her life and continues to do so even after her death. I absolutely loved to hate this dark and intimidating woman!

"Once more, I glanced up at her and once more I met her eyes, dark and somber, in that white face of hers, instilling into me, I knew not why, a strange feeling of disquiet, of foreboding. I tried to smile, and could not; I found myself held by those eyes, that had no light, no flicker of sympathy towards me."

Every single character is drawn skillfully and comes to life within the pages of this book. The tension builds and one cannot help becoming entangled with the suspenseful buildup of events leading to the climax. I was transported to another time and place and was perfectly mesmerized. I can’t say much more without getting into spoiler territory if you have not yet read this masterpiece. Just grab a copy soon and experience this one – please! This is the best of the best and is going on that very special bookshelf at home.

"I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continued to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth. This was what I had done. I had built up false pictures in my mind and sat before them. I had never had the courage to demand the truth."
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews11.3k followers
October 24, 2019
I went in completely 100% blind!!! Blind trust was all I needed, from trusted friends, but it took me forever to make this book a priority. I had 'Rebecca' downloaded on my Kindle since 2014. How foolish I was to wait.

There are 313, 907 ratings.... and 13, 947 reviews, on Goodreads, ... with an overall rating of 4.2 Ratings like that SPEAK! It's not a hype either!!

"Rebecca" is the most enduring classic of Love and Evil I've ever read.

Mystery, gothic thriller, drama, secrets, crime, suspense, some parts predictable...yet not all... there are surprise twists and turns, three dimensional -unforgettable characters, gorgeous writing with vivid descriptions, and a beautiful estate called Manderley .

"No wildflowers came into the house at Manderley. He had special cultivated flowers, grown for the house alone, in the walled garden. A rose was one of the few flowers, he said, that looked better pit them growing. A bowl of roses in the drawing room had a depth of color and a cent they had not processed in the open. There is something rather blowzy about roses in full bloom, something shallow and raucous, like women with and untidy hair. In the house they became mysterious and subtle".

I loved it - I loved it - I loved it!

It's TIMELESS......with more richness than many new release books of this genre.

Special thanks to Jean, Sara, and Candy.... and to many other Goodreads friends who read this before me. REBECCA is a novel - once read -- we can never forget!!!!
I'm definitely a new fan of author Daphne Du Maurer. Scapegoat was also phenomenal!!!

PS..... I need to run out... but I must come back and start reading 'other' REBECCA reviews!!! I read the last 80% in one sitting!! I'm spent!
I must go offline......but I'll be back - for discussions -- etc!
Happy weekend to this lovely community!
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,297 reviews1,342 followers
April 18, 2024
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

This beautiful first line is instantly recognisable, and has passed into our culture. Like all great openings it captures our imagination and makes us want to read more. The rhythm is insistent, the mention of dreams intrigues us and the word "Manderley" echoes somewhere in our subconscious. We are already in danger of falling under Daphne Du Maurier's hypnotic spell.

Generally regarded as Daphne du Maurier's masterpiece, Rebecca has never been out of print since it was first published in 1938 - a comparatively early novel. A tempestuous gothic romance, it was an immediate success, making its author into a household name. The story of the mysterious, glamorous ex-wife, the mousy replacement, the brooding and brusque Maxim de Winter and all the intrigue and drama which circle around these three characters is too well-known to need repeating in precis here.

Rebecca captured the feel of the age, drawing on the glamour of country society and the feeling of impending catastrophe that permeated the pre-war years. Du Maurier knew this society well, having been born into a wealthy family in London in 1907. She herself was a tomboy as a child however, and much preferred visiting the family's holiday home of Ferryside, to participating in London society. All these threads of her life, and many others, come together in this masterly novel. Many people love its high romanticism, but Daphne du Maurier became irritated over the years with people calling it a romantic novel. She insisted that it was in part "a study in jealousy" and also a depiction of a powerful man and a weak woman.

Our first introduction to Manderley comes when the narrator is also approaching the estate for the first time. It is an ominous journey, laden with foreboding,

"This drive twisted and turned as a serpent, scarce wider in places than a path, and above our heads was a great colonnade of trees, whose branches nodded and intermingled with each other... Even the midday sun would not penetrate the interlacing of those green leaves, they were too thickly entwined, one with another."

The mood continues with the first glimpse of the great house itself, with rhododendrons against a "blood-red wall." The apprehensive narrator refers to the "slaughterous red, luscious and fantastic."

Later though, Manderley seems to have exerted a different influence over the viewpoint character. She has a far calmer view, describing,

"a thing of beauty, exquisite and faultless, lovelier even than I had ever dreamed, built in its hollow of smooth grassland and mossy lawns, the terraces sloping to the gardens, and the gardens to the sea."

And a few hours later, when events turn and seem to come crashing down about her ears, the mood switches again. She looks through the window observing,

"a hurrying cloud hid the sun for a moment as I watched, and the sea changed colour instantly, becoming black, and the white crests were then very pitiless suddenly, and cruel."

The extraordinary and magnificent creation of "Manderley" was inspired in the main by Menabilly, a house the author had known about for many years. Menabilly had been empty for 20 years; it was totally covered with ivy and in a terrible state of decay at this time, but Du Maurier was determined to to live there one day. She had taken her three young children trespassing in the grounds a couple of years earlier, and apparently they all peered through the broken windows as she kissed the house and told them it was her favourite place. The family were living in "Ferryside", in Fowey, about four miles away. She did subsequently manage to lease Menabilly for 20 years, arranging all the renovations herself and the family moved there. It came as a great shock to her when many years later as an old woman she was told to leave the house she loved. But that is another story.

The actual setting of Manderley also mirrors the setting of Menabilly, which is hidden away in the woods by the Gribbin Head outside Fowey. Manderley has such presence in the novel that the reader senses it more as a character than a place. In fact in many of Du Maurier's works places are more important than people. While she was in Egypt, she had even confessed to missing Menabilly more than her two children. Her husband, a commanding officer in the Grenadier Guards, was stationed in Alexandria, and this is where she wrote the first rough draft of Rebecca. In 1937 she returned home - not to Menabilly yet, but to "Ferryside", which the Du Maurier family bought in the 1920's, and which is still the family home to this day.

Manderley was also partly based on Milton Hall in Cambridgeshire, which Du Maurier visited in her youth. It was here she conceived the character of Mrs Danvers, after seeing a tall dark housekeeper there. The insidiously malevolent character of Mrs Danvers is an extraordinary creation, with her white "skull's face" and her obsession with Rebecca. Another twisted, tortured and essentially broken character, who nevertheless exercises a powerful hold over weaker personalities,

"I shall never forget the expression on her face, loathsome, triumphant. The face of an exulting devil. She stood there, smiling at me."

Du Maurier drew many other aspects of the novel from her own life, in addition to the wonderful depiction of Manderley, and the the grotesquerie of Mrs Danvers. The seed of the story lay in Daphne Du Maurier's jealousy of Jan Ricardo, the first fiancée of her husband. And who apparently signed "Jan Ricardo" with a dramatic great R - a portentous curlicue that is emulated in the book,

"The name Rebecca stood out black and strong, the tall and sloping R dwarfing the other letters." And elsewhere, "That bold, slanting hand, stabbing the white paper, the symbol of herself, so certain, so assured."

Jan Ricardo later threw herself under a train, and it is said that the author was haunted by the suspicion that her husband remained attracted to Ricardo.

Daphne Du Maurier herself was notoriously shy and withdrawn. She writes herself into the story as the unconfident narrator. The fact that this viewpoint character is nameless and almost anonymous has always intrigued readers of the novel. The most obvious interpretation is that the second timid Mrs de Winter had such a low self-image that she becomes a mere shadow. The truth is rather more prosaic. Du Maurier couldn't think what to call the character at first, and so she didn't call her anything. As the novel progressed it became a challenge. And at some point presumably, she realised that the lack of a name cleverly symbolised the character's lack of self-worth.

We do know that the narrator is "not yet 21", as a contrast to Maxim's given age of 42, and she went to a fairly well-to-do boarding school. We even have glimpses of the narrator's name, which tempts us to believe that at some point it may be revealed to us. There is a reference early on to her name on an envelope being spelled correctly; that it is a rare occurrence. And Maxim says,

"You have a very lovely and unusual name... it becomes you as well as it became your father." (An oblique reference here perhaps, to the author's own father, the actor Gerald Du Maurier, whom she idolised and who in turn viewed Daphne as his favourite daughter.)

Alfred Hitchcock memorably made an Oscar-winning film of Rebecca in 1940. His casting of Laurence Olivier, who immortalised the moody figure of Maxim, was perfect in Du Maurier's opinion. Her overall view of the film may not have been quite so favourable, however. Subsequent versions tend to stay closer to the plot, but in this initial film, Daphne Du Maurier's ending was considered far too shocking and "immoral" for the audiences of the time, with the perpetrator of a serious crime escaping justice, and so it was changed.

Olivier himself had originally wanted Vivien Leigh to play opposite him, but in the event, Joan Fontaine proved a much better choice as the naïve insecure second Mrs de Winter. Interestingly, in the Hitchcock film, the whole crew called her "Daphne" on the shoot, although the character is written as "I" in the script. Hitchcock's was the start of many dramatisations and adaptations of the novel; its popularity continues even now. There has even, perhaps surprisingly, been a musical, an overblown pantomime-styled adaptation by all accounts, where Mrs Danvers was "boooed" every time she came on to the stage.

Maxim de Winter, viewed through the eyes of the woman who loves him, is an enigmatic character. He is portrayed much on the lines of Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy in "Pride and Prejudice", or Mr Rochester in "Jane Eyre". In fact Rebecca is heavily in debt to "Jane Eyre", with one crucial dramatic scene at the end lifted in its entirety. Maxim de Winter has all the desirable features of a typical masculine Victorian hero; he is handsome, heroic, but also very irritable. His proposal of marriage to his second wife consists in him snapping out the words, "I'm asking you to marry me, you little fool". Essentially he is a haunted and very private character. The narrator despairs, as he calls her "my sweet child" or "my good child" when he particularly wants to patronise or scold her. On one occasion she notes gloomily,

"The smile was my reward. Like a pat on the head for Jasper. Good dog then, lie down, don't worry me any more."

On another, Maxim says to her,

"You had a twist to your mouth and a flash of knowledge in your eyes. Not the right sort of knowledge... Listen my sweet... a husband is not so very different from a father after all. There is a certain type of knowledge I prefer you not to have."

This type of writing is difficult and uncomfortable for the modern reader to accept. Actually, such jarring notes are much more noticable in Du Maurier's novels where the viewpoint character is female. The author said herself that she felt much more comfortable writing male characters. She even went so far as to say that she felt herself to be a man in a woman's body.

Nevertheless, even though in general female characters are possibly not portrayed as convincingly as male ones in Du Maurier's stories, in this particular case it does work. Rebecca is a highly charged novel, and such portrayals and attitudes need to be viewed as being within the mores and context of this type of novel, observing its conventions. It is essentially a gothic melodrama, redolent with grotesque characters such as Mrs Danvers, and to a lesser degree the appalling Mrs Van Hopper, the shallow spoilt wealthy woman to whom the second Mrs de Winter was a companion at the start of the novel. And as such, it also contains as a counter-weight, the sort of heroes and heroines we might also associate with a previous century,

"They suffered because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth."

The relationship between the couple we are following is consistent with this period feel. It is very uneven and exaggerated, with the viewpoint character being completely tongue-tied with him, and increasingly cowed and made neurotic by her perception of her predecessor. She could talk to his legal advisor Frank Crawley, or his sister Beatrice, about Rebecca, with no such qualms. But not with her husband,

"He did not belong to me at all, he belonged to Rebecca. He still thought about Rebecca. He would never love me because of Rebecca. She was in the house still... and in the garden...her footsteps sounded in the corridors, her scent lingered on the stairs... Rebecca was still mistress of Manderley. Rebecca was still Mrs de Winter. I had no business here at all... Rebecca, always Rebecca."

"I could fight the living but I could not fight the dead...Rebecca would never grow old. Rebecca would always be the same. And her I could not fight. She was too strong for me."

The oppressive timbre of the novel shifts. Sometimes the threat is such as this, a sense of Rebecca; sometimes Mrs Danvers. Other times it is Manderley itself. And sometimes the sensations are blended, so that Manderley and Mrs Danvers almost become one. At other times, the narrator has moments of happiness, such as this time, shortly before a fancy dress ball, full of optimism at the exciting forthcoming event. She describes Manderley thus,

"the drawing-room, formal and cold to my consideration when we were alone, was a blaze of colour... and the hall itself wore a strange waiting air, there was a warmth about it I had never known before...The old austerity had gone. Manderley had come alive in a fashion I would not have believed possible. It was not the still quiet Manderley I knew. There was a certain significance about it now that had not been before. A reckless air, rather triumphant, rather pleasing. It was as if the house remembered other days, long long ago."

Yet later, when events had taken a dramatic turn for the worse,

"The tall shrubs looked dark and drab now that the colour had gone. A fog was rolling up from the sea and I could not see the woods beyond the bank. It was very hot, very oppressive...The sun had gone in now beyond a wall of mist. It was as though a blight had fallen upon Manderley taking the sky away and the light of day... The dark trees loomed thin and indistinct... The mist in the trees had turned to moisture and dripped upon my bare head like a thin rain. The clammy oppression of the day... the sea, sullen and slow"

Rebecca is a true classic. The overwhelming aura of, "Rebecca with her beauty, her charm, her breeding," permeates the entire book. Yet Rebecca never appears. Not once. It is unique of its kind. Not only because of that, but also because "Rebecca" is ostensibly the heroine of the book; its title character. She makes her presence felt solely through the narrator - who had never even met her. It is a book which can be read on many levels, and is open to different interpretations, as many great works are.

Take the opening sentence, whose hypnotic rhythm I referred to at the start of this review. Have you noticed the structure? It is an iambic hexameter (there are 6 lengths - 6 "di-dahs") which along with the iambic pentameter (5 lengths) is often used in English poetry and plays. Was this deliberate? Was it subliminal? For a moment I wondered if the author's own name, "Daphne Du Maurier" becomes an iambic hexameter if you double it up. To echo that would perfectly demonstrate to me how much of herself she puts into her novels. But in fact it becomes a dactylic tetrameter (the dactylic poetic foot being one stressed followed by two unstressed ie "dum-di-di"."Tetrameter" simply means four poetic feet, so four lots of "dum-di-di"s.) Nevertheless, to use such a structure shows her feelings and deep love for poetic language.

The are myriads of details which can be analysed and seen as portents. Take the instance of Beatrice's wedding present to the new bride - a set of books. They fall, due to the viewpoint character's clumsiness, thus breaking a small cupid ornament - which itself was a wedding present to the first Mrs de Winter. Here the symbolism is overt.

The are two "paths" which the narrator can take - both figuratively and literally. One is called "Happy Valley", the other...well here is a description of that one,

"There is no sense of beauty in this undergrowth. That tangle of shrubs there should be cut down to bring light to the path. It was dark much too dark. That naked eucalyptus tree stifled by branches looked like the white bleached limb of a skeleton, and there was a black earthy stream running beneath it, choked with the muddied rains of years, trickling silently to the beach below. The birds did not sing here as they did in the valley. It was quiet in a different way."

Here the author switches between present and past to increase a sense of unease. In other parts of the novel she will use extremely short sentences - not even complete sentences in some cases - to heighten the mood and add a jerkiness and breathlessness to a dramatic situation. There is a very marked instance of this about two thirds the way through the novel after a big "reveal". It is a highly charged emotional episode, and after this the characters behave in a slightly different way, both towards each other and to everyone else, because of their experience.

In certain descriptive passages Du Maurier's language is extremely poetic. The feeling that Manderley is a character rather than just a building, garden and estate was touched on earlier in this review. Manderley is overwhelmingly an organic presence. Much use is made of the pathetic fallacy throughout the novel. Nature is always described as taking on the attributes and feelings of the person experiencing it. Is this deliberate too? Or merely a reflection of what the author felt - her passionate reaction to her beloved Nature in all its apparent moods; Cornwall's unpredictable sea, the cliffs, the gardens and the house.

This quote is typical of the overall feeling of threat and tension in this novel,

"The weather had not broken yet. It was still hot, oppressive. The air was full of thunder and there was rain behind the white dull sky, but it did not fall. I could feel it, and smell it, pent up there, behind the clouds."

This fifth novel really established Daphne Du Maurier's name. Yet it could be argued that she was still to write her best works. "My Cousin Rachel" for instance, her thirteenth major work dating from 1951, has a very similar feel and employs many of the same literary devices. I personally feel she has honed her skills to an even greater and subtler level with that one. (Here is a link to my review of it.)

However, whatever you judge to be the case as regards literary worth, this is a compelling book which once read is never forgotten. Daphne Du Maurier has invested a great deal of herself in this novel - her personality, her own obsessions and her experiences. It is an excellent read on any level, with tension, high drama, intrigue and tragedy. There are a couple of very ingenious twists. And the characters and places have cunningly filtered their way into the public's consciousness as those in all great works do.
Profile Image for Emily May.
2,058 reviews312k followers
May 17, 2015
Rebecca is just a great story that never gets old. Great characters, great writing... it remains one of my all time favourites and I seem to appreciate something new every time I return to it.
Profile Image for chai ♡.
342 reviews163k followers
May 17, 2024
Rebecca walked so Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne could run!

All in all, gorgeous writing. There is a keen sense of suspense in the beginning that kept me riveted to the page. Such a gnawing and permeating portrait of anxiety, painting so clearly the feeling of being wound up so tight, a piano wire so taut it might snap at any moment. The novel, unfortunately, does not sustain it throughout, and the thrill sags somewhere around the middle. Respectfully to our unnamed narrator, I think this would have been a more compelling read if it switched to Rebecca’s perspective at some point. What can I say? I support women's rights, but I fucking dig women's wrongs.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews149 followers
August 1, 2021
(Book 603 from 1001 Books) - Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier (1907 - 1989)

Rebecca is a thriller novel by English author Dame Daphne du Maurier. Publication date: 1938.

While working as the companion to a rich American woman on holiday in Monte Carlo, the unnamed narrator, a naïve young woman in her early 20's, becomes acquainted with a wealthy Englishman, George Fortescue Maximilian "Maxim" de Winter, a 42-year-old widower.

After a fortnight of courtship, she agrees to marry him and, after the wedding and honeymoon, accompanies him to his mansion in Cornwall, the beautiful estate Manderley. ...

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «ربه‌ کا»؛ «ربکا»؛ نویسنده دافنه دو موریه؛ انتشاراتیها (جامی، جاویدان، ارسطو، کتابهای جیبی، شبگیر، صدای معاصر، نهال نویدان، فراروی) ادبیات فرانسه؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1974میلادی

عنوان: «ربه‌ کا»؛ اثر: دافنه دو موریه؛ مترجم: فریدون کار؛ تهران، جاویدان، 1369، در 454ص، شابک 9645529093؛ چاپ پانزدهم 1378، موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا، سده 20م

مترجمین دیگر خانمها و آقایان: «عنایت الله شکیباپور؛ تهران، ارسطو؛ در 512ص»؛ «حسن شهباز، تهران، کتابهای جیبی، 1342؛ در دو جلد»؛ «پرویز شهدی، تهران، شبگیر، 1390، در 431ص؛ چاپ دیگر صدای معاصر، 1389»؛ «مجید محمدی، تهران، نهال نویدان، 1392، در582ص»؛ «هانیه چوپانی، تهران، فراروی، 1392، در 527ص»؛

ادامه ی این داستان را «سوزان هیل»، با عنوان «خانم دو وینتر» نوشته اند، که ترجمه شده است، اگر هنوز کتاب را نخوانده اید و میخواهید هیچ واژه ای از داستان را از دست ندهید، لطفا ادامه ی نوشتار این فراموشکار را نخوانید، ولی آنها که همچو این فراموشکار خوانده اند، و میخواهند یادشان بیاید که داستان چه بوده، و چگونه، بخوانند، داستان با این جمله آغاز میشود «دیشب در عالم رویا دیدم که بار دیگر در ماندلی پا گذاشتم»؛ داستان را زن جوانی روایت میکند، که تا پایان داستان نامش را نمی‌دانیم، ایشان با نام خانم «دووینتر»، شناخته میشوند؛ داستان در باره ی زن جوان خدمتکاری است، که با مردی جوان و ثروتمند آشنا، و با او ازدواج می‌کند؛ دختر پس از مدتی، پی می‌برد همسرش، زن پیشین زیبای خود را، در یک حادثه از دست داده، و سیر داستان، پرده از راز همسر او برمی‌دارد؛ زن جذاب و درگذشته ی همسرش، گویا زنی هوسباز بوده، و شبی که منتظر معشوقه اش بوده، ناگهان با شوهر خود روبرو میشود، و پس از دادن خبری دروغین به همسر خویش، که آبستن است، به دست شوهر خویش کشته میشود؛ شوهر، آقای «ماکسیمیلیان دووینتر»، جسد همسرش را، به همراه قایق شخصی خود، در دریا غرق میکند؛ پس از یکسال، با پیدا شدن جسد «ربه کا»، «ماکسیمیلیان دووینتر» به پای میز محاکمه کشیده میشود؛ و ....؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 02/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 09/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Adina ( away for a few more days).
1,048 reviews4,296 followers
February 1, 2019
First 5* of 2019.

There are so many reviews about this one that I have no idea what to write. I will just say that I regret not having read it earlier. I had it in my shortlist for about 3 years and for different reasons I kept postponing to start this dark and wonderful gothic mystery. Don't be like me! Read it now!
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews23k followers
November 7, 2019
Manderley and I had a much more successful visit this time around, as compared to the first time I read this book several years ago. Here's the key: This is not a romance novel. It's a psychological suspense novel. As I reread Rebecca with this in mind, I had a much greater appreciation for its artistry, the way Daphne du Maurier skillfully used words to create a mood and increase the suspense.
We can never go back again, that much is certain. The past is still close to us. The things we have tried to forget and put behind us would stir again, and that sense of fear, of furtive unrest, struggling at length to blind unreasoning panic - now mercifully stilled, thank God - might in some manner unforeseen become a living companion as it had before.
The narrator, a young and painfully self-conscious girl, is a paid companion to Mrs. Van Hopper, a snobbish social climber. While they are in Monte Carlo, Mrs. Van Hopper bulldozes her way into an acquaintance with a quiet widower, Maxim de Winter. Despite our heroine's lack of status and social graces, Maxim begins spending time with her and soon asks her to marry him.


Desperately in love with him, she does so, despite the vast differences in their ages, wealth, status ... just about everything. And despite his frequent rudeness and mockery of her.


After a too-brief honeymoon, they return to England and Maxim's lovely country estate, Manderley, presided over by the skeletal housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who instantly takes a dislike to the new Mrs. de Winter. Mrs. Danvers does her best to undercut the main character's lack of confidence in every way possible, but mostly by holding up Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, as an impossibly high standard of beauty, taste and accomplishment, a standard that the second wife can never hope to reach.


The second wife becomes more and more haunted by this paragon, Rebecca, even though there are clues in the things Maxim, his sister and others say - and don't say - that maybe there was more to Rebecca's character than the second wife realizes.

I found it fascinating how du Maurier tells you the end in the beginning, in such a way that it doesn't spoil the story at all, but adds to the underlying tension and sense of oppression. The second Mrs. de Winter thinks they are contented, and perhaps they are, but they are deeply damaged as well, living a sort of half-life.

Mrs. Danvers is quite the character: one wonders how much her presence in Rebecca's childhood influenced the person Rebecca became. And Rebecca herself ... well, without getting into spoiler territory, she has an amazing presence in this novel for someone who's dead before it even starts.

I have to say that the second Mrs. de Winter's paralyzing lack of self-confidence and her gaucherie, even though integral to the plot, was really irksome to me at first. Every time she'd start off into another daydream, which she did All. The. Time., imagining conversations and events out of whole cloth, I would mentally roll my eyes at her. But once I realized that this is not to be read as a romance novel (really, the relationship here is pretty unhealthy on both sides), I was free to appreciate the characters' shortcomings instead of being frustrated by them, and to see how those shortcomings and their past experiences combine to bring them together, but pull them apart at the same time. It's a fascinating psychological study.

My rating has gone from 3, to 4, to 5 stars. It's a book that has really stuck with me.


Between the well-drawn, seriously flawed characters, the brooding atmosphere, with a feeling that disaster is just waiting for the right moment to strike, and the great plot twists, Rebecca is deservedly a classic in its genre.

Initial comments:
I read Rebecca maybe 15 years ago and didn't really care for it back then. I'm not entirely sure now of the reasons why, but I think it may have been that I was expecting more of a romance with some nice happy feels at the end? So now that my expectations have been adjusted, we're going to give this another shot.
October 11, 2022
"Rebecca" is a strong evocative and an exceptional endearing read filled with vivid world-building, strong characters but a relatively slow-moving plot mixed with gothic and suspense elements!

The protagonist’s name isn’t shared throughout, though she ends up interacting with all the characters in the novel, big or small!

Hope it doesn't sound like gaslighting the readers, but I would seriously doubt the sanity of anyone condemning this novel at any level, including the floundering of the plot or the bulkiness of the novel. The cornucopia of the strong idiosyncratic characters, a plethora of atmospheric detailing and a major plot-twist supersedes any of the weaker attributes of the novel.

The novel predominantly revolves around "Manderley", an English town where the husband of the protagonist resides.
Daphne Du Maurier, has doused the book with profuse magic using her magic-wand of atmospheric-laden words, describing Manderley in vividity.

The novel begins on a note of nostalgia:-

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again"

The protagonist is timid, gauche, diffident, inhibited and unsure about herself for major part of the novel and fraught with jealousy. She imbues with inferiority complex, keeps the apparition/image of the dead-Rebecca in a constant superior position. She allows her confidence to be haunted by Rebecca throughout!

" I know people are looking me up and down, wondering what sort of success I'm going to make of it. I can imagine them saying, "What on earth does Maxim see in her?"
You see, I know that all the time, whenever I meet anyone new, they are all thinking the same thing – How different she is to Rebecca."

The radical transformation in her persona is depicted post she comes to know the reason of Rebecca's death. She becomes confident and self-assured. Her doubts about the dissolution of her marriage give place to feelings of surety and love.

Maxim De Winter, the protagonist's husband is portrayed as cold and non-sentimental, very similar to Shakespeare’s Othello.
It is only towards the end of the novel; he becomes skittish due to sudden change of events and seeks for emotional support from the wife!

My favorite character who piqued interest in me and kept me hooked onto the novel is the sinister Mrs. Danvers.
For me the gothic character is not the dead Rebecca, but the very much living Mrs. Danvers.
When the protagonist meets her for the first time, the description used by the authoress sets up a perfect mysterious air around her-

“Someone advanced from the sea of faces, someone tall and gaunt, dressed in deep black, whose prominent cheek-bones and great, hollow eyes gave her a skull's face, parchment-white, set on a skeleton's frame. She came towards me, and I held out my hand, envying her for her dignity and her composure; but when she took my hand hers was limp and heavy, deathly cold, and it lay in mine like a lifeless thing.”

Mrs. Danvers is the housekeeper at Manderley, and her image is painted as someone too creepy, malevolent, sinister and in awe of Rebecaa. She cannot replace Rebecca with the new bride. Mrs. Danvers ends up insinuating the crestfallen, Mrs. De Winters, post the failed costume ball.
This is so wretched of Mr. Danvers that she even instigates the pitiable gauche protagonist to contemplate of a suicide ☹

“I won’t push you. I won’t stand by you. You can jump of your own accord. What’s the use of your staying here at Manderley? You’re not happy. Mr. de Winter doesn’t love you. There’s not much for you to live for, is there? Why don’t you jump now and have done with it? Then you won’t be unhappy any more.”
I adore the fact, Daphne Du Maurier flips the personalities of the husband and wife as the novel progresses. The husband transforming from a rude to a meek dependent goat, and the wife/protagonist from a skittish female to a self-assured sailor of family affairs.

All-in-all a 5-star for this gripping read!

I would like to re-visit this novel, whenever I would want to read about the atmospheric setting of Manderley and the sinister character perusal of Mrs. Danvers!!
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,259 reviews5,961 followers
October 13, 2022
عندما تتحول الرواية الى هاجس يؤرقك من ان لاخر..عند الوفاة المفاجئة لاحدى معارفك..عند زيارتك لمزرعة وحبذا لو كانت بانجلترا..عندما ترى زوجين من هذا النمط اللامع السعيد الذي يثير حسد الجميع
..إنها ريبيكا..الرواية الوحيدة التي تمنيت لو كنت كتبتها انا!ا
هناك جزء منها كتبته دافني دي مورييه بالإسكندرية اثناء اقامتها بها

ريبيكا عن القهر في اعتى صوره ⚫
قهر النساء للرجال..قهر النساء للنساء..قهر الإنسان لنفسه عندما تصل قناعتك انك بانتحارك ستسدي خدمة لكل من حولك..فتخلصهم من ضعفك و غباءك و قلة حيلتك

Last night I dreamt of MANDERLEY. . again
هكذا تبدأ الكلاسيكية ذات البطولة النسائية 3بطلات متناقضات في كل شيء..الأولى ريبيكا..لا تظهر مطلقا!!تبدأ الرواية بعد موتها..و لكنها الغائب الحاضر بامتياز ..تنتمي لهذا النمط الذي يلوي الأعناق أينما حلت
الثانية هي الزوجة الثانية التي لم تمنحها دافني اسما في إشارة شديدة الذكاء
. .لإيضاح هامشيتها وانعدام ثقتها في ذاتها
..الثالثة مدبرة القصر: دينفرز ...و تنتنمي لعالم الرعب بشياطينه..وتصلح كدرس مستقل بكليات الاداب👻

اناشدك ان تتزوجيني..ايتها الحمقاء الصغيرة "هكذا تبدأ رحلتنا مع بطلتنا لاحدى تلك المزارع البريطانية ذات الرهبة..والاسم المدوى ماندرلي..
وما ان ندخل حتى يستقبلنا شبح مصمم على طرد الزوجة..ليس شبحا من اياهم..بل من أخطر الأنواع
هي رواية عن الحقيقة عندما تحميها بحياتك..و تجد من يدفع حياته ايضا لمعرفتها

رواية ذات جو بريطاني اصيل..تؤكد لك الا تصدق كل ما تسمعه..او بعض ما تراه.. لم تكف المطابع عن طبعها ابدا منذ 1938 حتى الان..ظلت تبيع إ 4آلاف نسخة شهريا منذ سبعين عام!!..تنتمي للكلاسيكيات البسيطة البعيدة عن التحذلق..
ولكنها لاتفتقر القيمة ..والهدف..شبهها كثيرون بجين إير و مرتفعات ويذرينج ..و هي لا تقل عنهم
..و لكنها أكثر بساطة. .و انمنى لو حظت بترجمة عربية كاملة لائقة

.اذا رغبت في التشويق ..فإليك ريبيكا💫
واذا رغبت في التفكير ..فإليك ريبيكا
واذا رغبت في المتعة..فإليك فيلم ريبيكا لهيتشكوك..فهو في روعة الرواية
Profile Image for James.
Author 20 books4,027 followers
April 29, 2023
5 stars to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. I loved it and probably consider it 4 1/2 stars just because of a few small items (but I can't not give it 5 here!).

The second wife of a wealthy widower (you'll never know her name) tries to figure out how to fit into her new family when it seems there's now way how. With many twists and turns, both suspense and a bit of romance, this story captures your attention immediately and takes you on a path of great intrigue. Just when you think you've figured it out, du Maurier confounds and surprises you -- in a good way. I would love to be a fly on the wall in Manderley (name of the estate where the book takes place) to catch all the hidden expressions and conversations.

1. Mystery and Intrigue
2. Character Development

1. Some unanswered questions (small ones).
2. I want more.

Final Thoughts
Read it. Experience it. Don't just watch the movie adaption. You want to make up your own mind about what everyone looks like and acts like.

There was almost a Broadway show made based on this book; I was super-excited, but funding failed. Oh well, maybe in the future.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.
Profile Image for Lucy.
421 reviews741 followers
September 20, 2020

I reread this in the anticipation for the new film adaptation of Rebecca. I love the Alfred Hitchcock one so I am weary of if the new Netflix adaptation will do the book justice.
This was an amazing reread- I only wish I could experience this reading it for the first time again!

Original review:
This story was so enthralling and unputdownable that it deserves much more than five stars!

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again..." one of the more famous first lines from literature. This book follows our unnamed heroine as she travels from Monte Carlo to Manderley and immerses herself in the lives of Maxim de Winter and the ghosts from his past.

This was gripping from start to finish. You find yourself so drawn into our unnamed narrator, her emotions, her turbulences, that you feel everything she experiences throughout the book. Reading this book I felt anger, dread in the pit of my stomach, grief that was almost heartbreaking, the butterflies of love and fun enjoyment. The book ensnares you into its web that you too are caught up in the lives of those at Manderley. It is fascinating to go on this journey with the narrator as she develops in to her own character and self identity. I found that she was naive yet strong, self-doubting yet brave. Even in times when she thinks she is at her weakest she is still fierce and raises up to face the challenge, even if it takes some time.

At first our unnamed heroine is the lowly companion of the snobbish Mrs Van Hopper. On a trip to the south of France she meets Max de Winter, a handsome and mysterious widower, whereupon she spends her days with him. It is clear she is enamoured by him, "I remember laughing aloud, and the laughing carried by the wind from me; and, looking at him, I realised he laughed no longer, he was once more silent and detached, the man of yesterday wrapped in his secret self", he is a multifaceted character, a mystery to be solved, she is drawn to him and quickly falls in love.
Our unnamed narrator has a bleak future until a proposal of marriage from Max takes her by surprise.
You don't understand... I'm not the sort of person men marry."

From here she is whisked away to the brooding Manderley, a place so overbearing and different from our narrators upbringing that there is a sharp contrast between the two. Upon their arrival at Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man.

In Manderley, the narrator uncovers and unravels more about the beautiful Rebecca, Max's dead wife. Rebecca's memory is kept alive by Mrs Danvers, the housekeeper, with reminders throughout Manderley of Rebecca's never-ending and never-forgotten presence. Rebecca is described as beautiful, intelligent, outspoken and confident- everything that our narrator is not. Rebecca is almost a magical creature, a goddess, something forbidden that the narrator is unbearably tempted to find out more, obsessive and jealous of this woman. She feeds her paranoia by imagining scenarios of what others must think of her as the new Mrs de Winter; how little and worthless they must say she is in comparison to Rebecca.
"She's so different from Rebecca."

Through the course of the book the narrator confirms to herself that she does not fit in with her new expected lifestyle: she makes friends with the house-maid and often does things alone, something which conflicts with the convention of how the wife of Mr de Winter should behave. This further fuels our narrators feelings of being an outcast, self-doubt and anxiety.
"I had not the pride, I had not the guts. I was badly bred."

The book details clearly Mrs Danvers obsession and affection for Rebecca. When Rebecca died she is devastated and angry at Max's behaviour. She sets out to reinforce Rebecca's memory to the staff, to Max and to the new Mrs de Winter through cold and manipulative ways. Mrs Danvers would be described as the 'villain' of this novel with "her eyes, dark and sombre, in that white face of hers". It is clear from the start that Mrs Danvers does not like the new Mrs De Winter and is cruel, "The expression on her face, loathsome, triumphant.The face of an exulting devil. She stood there,smiling at me."

Through these cruel interactions with Mrs Danvers, the loneliness, the self-doubt and Max's cold-hearted behaviour, our narrator faces something that no one in love wants to face or admit to; "We’re not meant for happiness, you and I."

This book was so brilliantly fleshed out. Daphne Du Maurier does a brilliant job at describing the characters, their emotions, their body movements, their tone of voice, that these characters are so life like and real. I absolutely loved some of the secondary characters in this book: Mr Crawley, the faithful companion to Max de Winter, a true gentleman and friend to our narrator, and the loveable Ben, the simple minded man that stays on the beach- who is much more perceptive than anyone gives him credit for. These characters were so well thought out and planned and were interwoven into the plot magnificently.

In addition, the description of Manderley was so well done, from the Happy Valley of flowers to the cold, steel grey sea, you felt yourself immersed in the settings, so wonderfully described that you could almost touch them.

Overall this book is so much more than a gothic romance. It covers scandal, lies, love, the other woman, jealousy and self-identity. A very highly enjoyable read that I wish I could turn back time so that I could experience the book as a first-time read all over again !
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,557 reviews4,343 followers
August 8, 2022
Rebecca is a smart and unsentimental spoof of Victorian romance… First of all it is a tale of the place and only after that it is a tale of the people residing there…
Yes, there it was, the Manderley I had expected, the Manderley of my picture postcard long ago. A thing of grace and beauty, exquisite and faultless, lovelier even than I had ever dreamed, built in its hollow of smooth grassland and mossy lawns, the terraces sloping to the gardens, and the gardens to the sea.

The heroine is a very naïve and inexperienced girl slaving in the dubious status of companion for the old vulgar and heartless hag…
Later her friends would come in for a drink, which I must mix for them, hating my task, shy and ill-at-ease in my corner hemmed in by their parrot chatter, and I would be a whipping-boy again, blushing for her when, excited by her little crowd, she must sit up in bed and talk too loudly, laugh too long, reach to the portable gramophone and start a record, shrugging her large shoulders to the tune.

Accidentally she gets acquainted with an aristocratic widower and after a short time spent together is proposed…
This sudden talk of marriage bewildered me, even shocked me I think. It was as though the King asked one. It did not ring true. And he went on eating his marmalade as though everything were natural. In books men knelt to women, and it would be moonlight. Not at breakfast, not like this.

Being married, after the honeymoon, on arriving at the fabulous place she finds herself immersed in the atmosphere of hopeless despondency… The spectre of the past grimly reigns over everything…
She stared at me curiously. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Sometimes, when I walk along the corridor here, I fancy I hear her just behind me. That quick, light footstep. I could not mistake it anywhere. And in the minstrels’ gallery above the hall. I’ve seen her leaning there, in the evenings in the old days, looking down at the hall below and calling to the dogs. I can fancy her there now from time to time. It’s almost as though I catch the sound of her dress sweeping the stairs as she comes down to dinner.” She paused. She went on looking at me, watching my eyes. “Do you think she can see us, talking to one another now?” she said slowly. “Do you think the dead come back and watch the living?”

Often on entering the new milieu we are prone to turning into hostages to the uncertain circumstances.
Profile Image for Kimber Silver.
Author 1 book369 followers
February 22, 2023
"It wouldn't make for sanity would it, living with the devil."
― Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

From the moment I began this enigmatic story, I felt as if I were a naughty houseguest who had slipped into a closed room to peek at someone’s diary. It was wicked and forbidden, so of course, I couldn’t pull myself away. Glancing over my shoulder to make sure I hadn’t been found out, I wrapped myself up in the beautiful prose and fell in love with the widower Maxim de Winter and his young miss, the narrator of this sinfully delicious tale.

"I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say."

They met in Monte Carlo, the brooding Mr. de Winter master of Manderley, an English estate, and the young lady, a hired companion to Mrs. Van Hopper. A most unlikely pairing with him in his forties and her having just reached the tender age of twenty-one; but when Maxim de Winter showed interest, our narrator fell for him hook, line and sinker. In the space of three weeks, it was all done and dusted.

"Either you go to America with Mrs. Van Hopper or you come home to Manderley with me."

"Do you mean you want a secretary or something?"

"No, I'm asking you to marry me, you little fool."

Admittedly not the proposal of her dreams, but it did what it set out to do, and they were married immediately. The stage was set for a long and happy union.
What starry-eyed nonsense, you say. I was promised a thrill! Well, don’t hurry off too quickly, my fellow bibliophiles, for within this fairytale lurks an evil that will eat away at the de Winter’s peace with big slurping bites, and her name is Rebecca.

"Rebecca, always Rebecca. Wherever I walked in Manderley, wherever I sat, even in my thoughts and in my dreams, I met Rebecca."

Written in the first person, we are only privy to the narrator’s narrow point of view. Each time the new Mrs. de Winter meets someone, we are offered only tiny snippets of the past, and these morsels of information spin a vile web in her mind that almost drove us both to the brink of insanity!

Rebecca is a haunting masterpiece replete with enchanting gloominess. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a tense Gothic thriller and scrumptious prose.
Profile Image for Justin.
291 reviews2,395 followers
June 1, 2019
Well, hello there. It's officially been two months since I actually finished a book, and it's been longer than that since I reviewed one. I almost forgot what it feels like to come to the last page of a book, read it, exhale slowly, and put the book down gently with that small spark of accomplishment raging deep inside you. Plus, the whole post-book sandwich thing that I've mentioned somewhere before and, again, may not be a real thing.

So, Rebecca... wow. It took me a month to read it because I started it in the midst of my yearly book slump. I put it down for a while, not because it sucked, but because books in general were just not doing it for me at that time in my life. I think this is a safe place to share that. Maybe you read all the time, nonstop, couldn't think of ever slowing down. That's awesome. I, on the other hand, set goals I can't accomplish and find myself too easily distracted by other stuff sometimes.

Anyway, for all of y'all out there in a similar situation where you're Netflixin' and chillin' or playing video games or enjoying the summer outside somewhere, and you come back to books like "Damn, I don't feel like reading and nothing even sounds good because right now I have some very specific needs of what I want a book to do to me and nothing is going to fit into these ridiculous categories I've outlined for myself plus I don't even really have time right now and the new season of Game of Thrones is starting soon..."

If you're feeling any of that, go grab a copy of Rebecca somewhere and relax. As I'm writing this review, I'm relaxing with a Community Mosaic IPA because 1) IPAs are awesome 2) this one is one of my local favorites and 3) I'm a hipster. Relax. Start reading Rebecca. Let it intoxicate you like too many sips of a local IPA. From the very beginning, the writing is amazing. It never lets up either. Every scene, every character, every event... they are all painted so beautifully and methodically. Sometimes you'll find yourself caught up in the suspense, and then a long paragraph describing the room interrupts, but it's just so sexy and feels so important that you don't even care. You don't even feel interrupted. It all feels necessary.

I took my time with the book early on, but gee whiz man I didn't drop the book much during the second half. I don't want to talk about the plot really, but the book did go places I wasn't expecting in a great way. There's a slow, suspenseful build that hangs in the air, and by the end you have to keep moving quickly as things unravel because it doesn't let up until the last page. Whew!!

I learned recently that Hitchcock directed the movie which makes perfect sense. If you like Hitchcock, you should enjoy this one. If you like good, well-written, slow-burning mysteries, this is for you. If you are a human with eyes functioning well enough to take in the words written in these pages, this is for you. Highly recommended. Kicked me right out of my slump and reminded me books are awesome.

And, I get to enjoy a fantastic sandwich today! Happy Independence Day, America!!

Update 7/9/17: The Hitchcock movie gets 5 stars, too. Check it out.
Profile Image for Candace.
1,179 reviews4,601 followers
October 16, 2017
'Rebecca' is a classic gothic novel that had been hanging out on my TBR list for years. For whatever reason, I had never made it to this highly acclaimed book. In a bit of a reading rut, I decided to tackle it to change things up a bit. Man, am I ever glad that I did! This book was great!

I went in to this book blind, knowing only that it was a classic. I didn't have any idea of what I was in for, but I anticipated some sort of sweet and innocent love story like the Bronte sisters are known for. While there was a sort of love story...and it certainly wasn't graphic like you'd expect in today's romance novels...there was nothing "innocent" about this story. It was suspenseful and downright creepy at times. There was an eerie sense of unease that pervaded this novel. Despite being nearly a century old, the effect was not diminished in the least.

The story begins in Monte Carlo, where the wealthy widower, Maxim de Winter befriends the young, paid companion of a rich, elderly social climber. When her shallow employer falls ill, the young lady, who remains nameless, is invited to spend time gallivanting around Monte Carlo with Mr. de Winter. She is incredibly naïve and instantly smitten with the older, influential man.

When her employer regains her health, they are set to return to America immediately. Heartbroken, she seeks out Mr. de Winter to bid him farewell. Only, he has another proposition for her. Happy for the first time since the death of his beloved wife, Rebecca, he is not ready to part ways with the vibrant young lady. He proposes marriage. She accepts, thinking that all of her dreams have come true. She has no idea of what lies ahead of her.

After the rushed nuptials, Maxim and his new wife return to his famous country estate, Manderley. It doesn't take long for the mood to turn darker. The second Mrs. de Winter feels like an imposter in her new home, constantly reminded of the beautiful wife that preceded her and seemed to be beloved by all. Mrs. Danvers, the head housekeeper, is more than happy to remind her at every opportunity that she will never be able to measure up.

On top of everything else, Maxim seems to be a different man at the estate. He is moody, withdrawn and seems to keep her at arms-length. As she tries to navigate her new high-class lifestyle, to which she had been completely unaccustomed, he seems almost antagonistic at times.

The longer she stays at Manderley, the more she comes to realize that things are not as they seem. Rebecca had secrets and the more the second Mrs. de Winter uncovers, the more she begins to question what exactly she got herself into and what kind of danger lurks at Manderley.

There is a big twist, which I didn't see coming, but can't say that I was particularly shocked by. It changes everything and casts new light on the mystery surrounding Rebecca's untimely death. The second Mrs. de Winter finally gets the answers to all of her questions, but she might wish that she hadn't unearthed the truth.

Since I am primarily a romance reader, I did wish that the love story was a more critical piece of this story. I can't say that I ever really believed that Mr. de Winter really loved his second wife, or even lusted after her for that matter. I never felt that there was a genuine emotional connection between the two, which made the story a little less enjoyable for me.

Overall, I still thought that this was a fantastic story. I was surprised by how easily this story was able to transcend time, still proving to be chilling and compelling today. It was a great choice to change it up for me. If you haven't read it, I definitely recommend this one. I hear that the movie is fabulous also, so I plan to check it out as well in the near future.
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,559 reviews7,017 followers
October 4, 2020
Gothic suspense and so much more - a beautifully written book!
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,451 reviews11.4k followers
November 20, 2020
10 years later...

Hmm, not that wild about it now.

1) The romance took a huge plunge for me. Rebecca is where it's at, she is the most interesting character, Amy Dunne of 1930s. The narrator is a wet blanket, and Max - an aging criminal. BTW, Rochester>Max de Winter, and a lesser criminal. Plus Jane Eyre had some back bone.

2) I forgot how much of this book was devoted to the inquiry into Rebecca's death = not really interested.

3) Could have done without the blackface and calling a handicapped man an "idiot" a million times.

4) However, the first half of the novel filled the Downton Abbey-sized hole in my heart.

5) Beautiful, atmospheric writing.

Now off to watch new Netflix adaptation.

Books like Rebecca remind me from time to time what quality literature really is. Sometimes I forget, buried under stacks of entertaining but often poorly written popular fiction.

At first, Rebecca is very reminiscent of another favorite book of mine - Jane Eyre. The main character is a young, innocent, poor girl who falls in love with a rich older man. The happiness is so near, but the shadow of the man's first wife stands in the way of it. A family secret, a haunted mansion, a deranged servant, and a fire are also major players in the story.

I've said it before, I personally don't mind borrowed themes, but only if done right. A talented writer can reinterpret and reinvent an old story, add new layers to it, and Daphne du Maurier does just that. The book is beautifully written, it is haunting, it is suspenseful.

I also think it takes a gifted writer to make readers get attached to a character as insecure, jealous, and timid as the second Mrs. de Winter. Daphne du Maurier succeeds once more. The main character is very compelling and her fears are palpable. I found myself sharing the heroines insecurities (after all, why shouldn't she question her husband's feelings toward her if he treats her like a child, a pet and doesn't make an effort to let her know where he stands in regard to his first wife?), being scared of and intimidated by Mrs. Danvers, and taunted by the memories of the first (possibly superior) wife.

Rebecca is simply a great book all around, deservedly a masterpiece of English literature and from now on - a new favorite love story of mine, to be treasured and reread.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,770 reviews1,176 followers
November 1, 2020
An unnamed woman recounts her past, looking back at when she first fell in love, as a young woman, almost still a girl. She was a shy young women, working as a companion to an older women in Monte Carlo, when she came across, and fell for, the well known, upper class Maxim de Winter, a recent widow and owner/occupier of the legendary English home, Manderley. The mighty Manderley itself, is a key player in this magnificent gothic mystery romance. There's the combative head housekeeper Miss Danvers to overcome, and even more so the legacy of Maxim's well loved and adored first wife, Rebecca. Chapter by chapter the narrator documents her tale of secrets, lies, love and hate, manipulation and disinformation, of masks and of facades.

From the opening line - "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again", I knew I was reading something special. This is one of those books, that after the first few pages I already knew I was reading a Five Star read. Yet as I progressed through the book, I began searching in vain for a Six Star rating, absorbed with how the mix of the almost irreverent gothic romantic spiel of the narrator in her youth, is counterbalanced by the aloof, mature, and yet selective and secretive De Winter - it is/was all so compelling! The supporting cast are a joy, from the dark and distraught Danvers, through the the sister who says what she thinks! The key driver for me, for most reads is the story, and yet again du Maurier BRINGS IT ON! 10 out of 12. Five Star Read!

My two fave writers of all time are Margaret Atwood and Donna Tartt, and it looks like this list has just got one author longer.
Profile Image for Arlene Sanders.
Author 1 book26 followers
November 27, 2008

REBECCA is my favorite book of all time -- bar none.

The opening line is famous, but I didn’t know that the first time I read it (I was about 14). I just remember that the magic began with that first line:

Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderly again....

The girl is young, clumsy, exquisitely sensitive. Impoverished and alone after her father’s death, she was employed by a wealthy and boorish social climber, Mrs. Van Hopper, and made her living as the older woman’s companion.

Maxim de Winter, handsome, fabulously rich, and the owner of Manderly, one of the finest estates in England, crosses paths with the women in Monte Carlo.

As the girl falls crazy in love with de Winter, revealing herself as the most flaming romantic in all of British literature, she sees him like this:

He belonged to a walled city of the fifteenth century, a city of narrow, cobbled streets, and thin spires, where the inhabitants wore pointed shoes and worsted hose. His face was arresting, sensitive, medieval in some strange inexplicable way, and I was reminded of a portrait seen in a gallery I had forgotten where, of a certain Gentleman Unknown.

And like this:

Could one but rob him of his English tweeds, and put him in black, with lace at this throat and wrists, he would stare down at us in our new world from a long distant past—a past where men walked cloaked at night, and stood in the shadow of old doorways, a past of narrow stairways and dim dungeons, a past of whispers in the dark, of shimmering rapier blades, of silent, exquisite courtesy.

(I thought I was a romantic!)

However, I never saw him the way she did. Even as a teenager, I thought de Winter was a horse’s ass and a male chauvinist pig if ever there was one, and to this day, I don't understand what women see in him:

“So Mrs. Van Hopper has had enough of Monte Carlo,” he said,
“and now she wants to go home. So do I. She to New York and I to Manderly. Which would you prefer? You can take your choice.”

“Don’t make a joke about it, it’s unfair,” I said, “and I think I had better see about those tickets, and say good-bye now.”

“If you think I’m one of the people who try to be funny at breakfast, you’re wrong,” he said. “I’m invariably ill-tempered in the early morning. I repeat to you, the choice is open to you. Either you go to America with Mrs. Van Hopper or you come home to Manderly with me.”

"Do you mean you want a secretary or something?”

“No, I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.”


Then this:

"So that's settled, isn't it?" he said, going on with his toast and marmalade; "instead of being companion to Mrs. Van Hopper you become mine, and your duties will be almost exactly the same. I also like new library books, and flowers in the drawing-room, and bezique after dinner. And someone to pour out my tea. . .and you must never let me run out of my particular brand of toothpaste."


(Women certainly don't want male chauvinist swine as employers, but we accept them as husbands and lovers, because mostly that's all there is, so we have to make do.)

The spirit of Rebecca herself -- the first Mrs. de Winter -- pervades the novel like a gathering storm, a painful presence for the young woman Maxim marries after Rebecca's death. Although du Maurier gave the second Mrs. de Winter an inner life of extraordinary richness and depth, the author did not give her a name. When I learned that she didn’t have a name, I gave her mine, and she became me. I think she is simply every romantic woman who ever read this remarkable novel.

Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is also my favorite film. Joan Fontaine brilliant as the second Mrs. de Winter; Laurence Olivier absolute perfection as Max. This film was released in 1940, so don't see it in a theatre filled with college students, because they will snicker in the wrong places and spoil the most poignant scenes for you.

Profile Image for jessica.
2,575 reviews43.4k followers
May 7, 2019
‘rebecca’ is a deliciously haunting and romantically gothic ghost story. but this isnt just any ghost story. its also a young ladys journey of self-actualization and identity, all while plagued by the lingering presence of a dead woman. its a psychological thriller and one that has rightfully stood the test of time.

the strength of this novel is definitely in the atmospheric writing. the storytelling has just the right balance of mood, darkness, and mystery. the pacing is great and the prose is gorgeous. it actually has quite a cosy feel to it and, because of that, this has now become my go-to autumn/halloween read!

4 stars
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