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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is full of suspense and entertainment, from the opening line: “Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again” — to the last line: “And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.”

The novel has unforgettable characters. The protagonist (who is also the novel's narrator) is the second wife of Maxim de Winter, the rich owner of the grand estate, Manderley. But her name is never revealed.

The book gets its title from Rebecca, the first wife of Maxim de Winter. She never appears in the book, she died in a sailing accident before the story started. But her spirit pervades Manderley. When she was alive she used to be a glorious socialite and perhaps malevolent.

The nameless narrator, the second Mrs. de Winter, tries to escape the spirit of Rebecca but she can’t. Everyone around her is constantly comparing her with Rebecca. Even the servants are loyal to Rebecca and they make the narrator feel inferior. Apparently she is too shy and awkward to fill Rebecca’s shoes.

The novel has an interesting villain, the sinister Mrs. Danvers. She was the devoted housekeeper of Rebecca and continues to be incharge of Manderley; she frightens and intimidates her new mistress. Towards the end of the novel the big secret that Manderley is hiding gets revealed.

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