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
Format: Trade Paperback (no crappy mass market here!)
Source: Bought it with my very own money.