Bookin' It

So Many Books. So Little Time. Let's Review!

The Second Time Around: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

NOTE: Lest new blog followers think I never review anything that doesn’t have a vampire or werewolf in it, I thought I would re-run a couple of older posts on books of other types. And never fear, I do plan to read newer books in different genres, too. There are several things in my To Be Read basket that are most assuredly not Urban Fantasy. But for now, I’m going to do a few “Second Time Around” posts, starting with my all-time favorite book by my all-time favorite author. Enjoy!!

Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca Cover

MY RATING: 5 of 5 Stars

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”

So opens one of the great romantic mysteries of all time, written by my very favorite author, the incomparable Daphne du Maurier.  Over the years, I read every one of du Maurier’s books, and while they were all wonderful, vividly written stories, Rebecca is undoubtedly the most beautiful.   I always felt Daphne du Maurier dipped her pen into a bowlful of images,  and drizzled them down the pages.  Her descriptions are so vivid and real, you can smell the azaleas, feel the mist on your face, and hear the foghorn from the shingle below the cliff.  

I first opened the covers of Rebecca when  I was 12 years old, and I will never forget how the story swept me up into a world of beauty, romance, and intrigue.  It has stayed with me all these years, and every so often, I find I am compelled to read it again.  To walk the halls of Manderley once more, and feel the fog rolling in off the sea.  To revel in the lush growth of the ancient rhododendrons lining the long drive to the estate.  To feel all the awkward self-consciousness of our heroine, who adores the handsome, haunted Maxim de Winter, but never feels secure about her place in his heart.  And most of all, to remember how the constant presence of Rebecca,  the first Mrs. de Winter, casts a ghostly shadow over every room in Manderley and every inch of the manicured grounds.  

Like so many of Daphne du Maurier’s books, Rebecca was made into an Oscar winning motion picture in 1940, starring Laurence Olivier at his most dashing, Joan Fontaine as his timid bride, and Dame Judith Anderson as the malevolent Mrs. Danvers.  Even today, the movie is considered a classic psychological/dramatic noir thriller, and is well worth watching.  Yes, some dialog is dated and the acting is on the melodramatic side, but it is still a very powerful piece of work, and the first movie Alfred Hitchcock ever directed in America.

The movie is fantastic, but the book is even better.  And the dramatic ending will take your breath away.  I can clearly remember coming to the last sentence, and going, “What?  WHAT?” as I flipped the final pages back and forth, sure I had missed something.  Those shocking endings became a trademark of du Maurier’s,  and Rebecca was not the last of her stories to be turned into a Hitchcock movie.  No library is complete without a good sample of her work.  But start with Rebecca.  I loved it so much, it’s my daughter’s middle name.  You might not go that far, but I’ll bet you’ll be swept away, too.

Rebecca

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5 thoughts on “The Second Time Around: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

  1. Jane Eyre is my favorite book, but Rebecca is a close second. I LOVE the 1940 movie with Joan Fontaine

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    • Hi, Linda! Nice to see you here. I love Jane Eyre, too, and Wuthering Heights, and pretty nearly anything set on a moor or heath in England or Scotland. And yes, as I mentioned in my post, that Hitchcock movie is still considered a classic. I just watched it again a few months ago, and was swept away all over again. Olivier is so handsome, and so totally politically incorrect in his arrogance, but still so tortured and miserable that we forgive him. He was a product of his time.

      I will always love the movie, and love the book even more. Manderley is my idea of what Heaven ought to look like. Except without the ghost of Rebecca spoiling everything. And I could do without Mrs. Danvers, too, though truthfully, I would have fired her backside the first week I was there! 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Hope you’ll stop by often.

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      • I wish someone would do a decent Jane Eyre movie. I’ve watched every one and none ever did it justice.

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        • I agree! Though there was a TV version made a long time ago with George C Scott and Susannah York that was probably my favorite. Even though Scott is about as English as a cranberry. 🙂 I’ve seen lots of versions, too, and like 99% of what comes out of Hollywood, the casting is always wrong. Same with Wuthering Heights. I’ve never liked any versions of it, either. You’d think some of these producers and the like would actually READ a book before making it into a film.
          😉

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