Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rebecca Took Over My Brain (a review)

Well, crap. Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier, is one of those books that makes everything after it, at least for a period of time, pale in comparison. I can't believe I avoided reading it for this long. Truly. Ridonkulous.

Our unnamed narrator and protagonist is swept up by the affluent Maxim de Winter while she's in Monte Carlo. Though they quickly move back to his estate, the dreamy and palatial Manderley, they can't quite get on the same page. Everyone seems so caught up in the memory of his first wife, the enigmatic and beautiful, Rebecca. Especially the creepy and ominous Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, who has taken over the daily workings of the estate since the death of the lady of the house.

The narrator's perception of herself and the gap between the way she perceives herself and her ideas about the deceased Rebeccca make this a haunting novel. I actually expected more of a straightforward paranormal or horror element to this classic given the sentiments I'd heard all these years, but that's inaccurate. This is very much a novel of psychology and image. Of hidden secrets and miscommunications.

Just...WOW. Daphne DuMaurier can really wield a pen. This is a fairly lengthy novel at 386 pages, and my favorite part was the wonderfully-developed characters. The tortured Maxim de Winter, our meek and nameless protagonist, the mysterious Mrs. Danvers, and the house itself--not to mention the absent but overlarge Rebecca.

What I expected would be the climax of this book came WAY before the end. Which means I got some things right, but misjudged that there would be more story afterward. In that way, it was a very surprising book--DuMaurier extended the experience of this book beyond the expected and the safe. She made some ballsy choices for our little narrator, and it really paid off. I love love loved this book and it left me with lots to think about. 

I can't wait to read more by DuMaurier!


Pub. Date: 1938 originally, my edition in 2006
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Trade Paperback (no crappy mass market here!)
ISBN:  9781844080380
Source: Bought it with my very own money.

37 comments:

  1. I'm so glad that you liked Rebecca, its one of my favourite books. I also love love LOVED it. Thanks for the lovely and glowing review :)

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    1. It was so good! I was totally sucked in and I loved how fast it read.

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  2. I have been meaning to read this book forever!! Sounds like I best get to it. Maybe not this fall with all the great new books coming out, be i see a break in December that I can fill with fodder from my TBR list.

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    1. It's a perfect read for this September/October, RIP, time of year! December would be good too, though. Enjoy when you get to it!

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  3. Read this maybe a thousand years ago. Would be good to revisit.

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    1. Definitely! I think it's one I will re-read one of these days.

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  4. I put off reading this for ages too, then like you I loved it and kicked myself for not reading it sooner! It's just SO GOOD.
    I'm going to read Jamaica Inn soon, I think.

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    1. Right?? I can't believe I put it off so long. Oh, what a new trade paperback can do. lol

      I definitely want to read more DuMaurier. I'm asking David to buy me Virago hardcovers of Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, and My Cousin Rachel for birthday or Christmas. :D

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  5. I don't remember when I read Rebecca - many years ago - but I loved the whole experience. It's one of the those books that can convince people classics are super enjoyable to read. I need to reread this one and more by DuMaurier.

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    1. It's seriously awesome. I was carrying it around with me the week I was reading it, and I went to a baby shower and several of the ladies there were like, "OH, that book is so good and creepy!" Love fellow readers. :)

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  6. I avoided this book because I thought it was romance. I need a book to take over my brain so I'm adding it to my wish list.

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    1. Nope! It's amazing! I hope you like it, Kathy, when you get to it.

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  7. Glad you finally got around to read this great book. I have read it several times and still find new things every time. I love it. Your review makes me want to re-read it again.

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    1. I can imagine it's one of those books that grows richer every time its read. I can't wait to re-read it myself! I suspect I'll be ready in a year or two.

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  8. I cannot believe that I haven't read this. Argh.

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    1. DUDETTE! I thought you had. You should. It rocks.

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  9. Yay! I'm so glad you loved it! Why DID you avoid it so long?

    And why haven't read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn yet? HMMMM??? :P

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    1. Because I had a shitty mass market copy. Truth!

      And I was just eyeing A Tree Grows in Brooklyn last night.

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  10. Dear Andi
    I'm a new fan . Just found you on You Tube .Your videos are great. Your enthusiasm shines through ,your comments are funny and you are really entertaining .
    I had to chuckle when you posted your review of Rebecca. I read it about 20 years ago and wondered the same thing : Why didn't you read this sooner ?
    Just a suggestion : My cousin Rachel is just as creepy, maybe more so. Jamaica Inn is also really good .
    Thanks for brightening my day and giving me a chuckle .

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Julie! I love my little corner of the internet -- two corners now that I have the blog and the YouTube channel! Writing and filming for these outlets keeps me feeling creative amidst all the "stuff" of day jobs and housework and whatnot. So glad you stopped by, and I hope you'll visit again!

      I cannot wait to read My Cousin Rachel and Jamaica Inn! Perhaps I'll start with my Cousin Rachel since you said it's creepy.

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  11. It is really great you read this before reading Jane Eyre for Septemb-eyre. BTW -- I love Rebecca, but My Cousin Rachel is just OMG.

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    1. I kind of thought of that after the fact. lol Forgot there was a connection there and all the similarities, but now that it's back on my radar I can't wait to compare and contrast!

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  12. Is this your first Du Maurier? I hope so. You have some amazing reading ahead of you (although, personal opinion, Rebecca is her best).

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    1. It was! I've already asked David to buy me some Virago hardbacks of Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel for my birthday. :D

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  13. I don't read many books more than once but this one I've read a couple of times with plans to read it again before long. It's one of those that you keep getting something new out of every read.

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    1. It's totally gonna be worth a re-read. Can't wait to read Jane Eyre in quick succession so I can get a good comparison going on.

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    1. Okay, so I finally read it, and it was every bit as amazing as you said it would be. You never steer me wrong, Andi!

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  15. I just read this not too long ago - it was so good! Totally sucked me in. I think I'm going to try Jamaica Inn by her next.

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  16. Hooray, I'm glad you liked this book! Isn't it wonderful? I've reread it a dozen times and loved it every time. Even writing a paper about it for a high school English class did not drain away any of my love for it.

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  17. I always thought that this was a romance book based on the red cover with the scripty writing (did we already talk about this at book club?) so waited way too long to read it as well. Isn't it good? And Mrs. Danvers is the ultimate creepy-creeperton. I've since bought a few of her other books but haven't read any of them yet. I know you have no idea what that's like. ;)

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  18. I am not sure why I put this one off so long either. I loved it so much more than I thought I would. Excellent writing and wonderfully developed characters. Glad you loved it too!

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  19. Yay! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed this one. I actually read it a few years back so I'm seriously considering a reread for R.I.P. this year. I'm echoing everyone who is recommending My Cousin Rachel...it is just SO GOOD! Gah! I can't even put into words how much I loved that one :)

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  20. I'm still so glad you loved this one! I think it's a difficult book to know much about before you read it and there are a lot of misconceptions about it then it just surprises everyone. That's how it seems for most people. I need to read more by her, too!

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  21. I have DuMaurier on my audiobook wish list!but unfortunately, Rebecca is not available at the library :(

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  22. AHHH!! Isn't it incredible! I thought it was going to be some cheesy romance because of a cover I once saw and I avoided it for so long. So glad I finally read it.

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