Narrated by a young, just-out-of-school young woman who remains unnamed, the novel, Rebecca, follows her as she goes from working as an assistant for an overly demanding, wealthy and fault-finding woman to a whirlwind romance and marriage to the wealthy Maxim de Winter.
After an idyllic honeymoon in Italy, Mr. and Mrs. Maxim de Winter return to his estate in England. Mrs. De Winter knows her new husband is wealthy, but just how wealthy isn't apparent until she arrives with him at his family home, the enormous and overwhelming stone mansion called Manderley, located on the Cornish coast.
As she heads down the tree-lined drive toward the huge stone edifice, Mrs. De Winter begins to feel less and less confident about becoming mistress of such an estate. A sense of foreboding begins to envelop her. Her disease continues as she meets the cold and distant housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who still keeps the house just as it was when Rebecca, the former Mrs. De Winter, Maxim's first wife, was alive.
Sinister forces seem to inhabit the house. Mrs. Danvers continually makes Mrs. De Winter feel she is inferior to the first Mrs. De Winter and inadequate for the duties of mistress of the manor. Even more disturbing is that it's almost as though Rebecca is still alive.
Secrecy and mystery surround the death of Rebecca, which the new bride determines to uncover. What results is one of the best-loved Gothic novels of all time and a book that has been dubbed the "Best Novel of the 20th Century" at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention.
Daphne Du Maurier was born in 1907 in London. Her father was actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier. Best known for her Gothic suspenseful and romantic style, she wrote "Rebecca" and "The Birds," which was produced by American horror film director Alfred Hatchcock.
"Rebecca is one of my favourite books of all time. It's possible I've read it 100 times, and I'm still not tired of it. I like everything about it - the romance that transcends social mores, the mysterious, worldly suitor who recognizes his mate in an ordinary working girl, the perspective of the shy young ingenue catapulted into a world of prestige, her piercing descriptions of her self-conscious struggles, the portraits of the imperious servants and the annoyingly jocular, ponsy relatives, the lavish, metaphorical descriptions of the house and gardens and forest and sea-scape and food at Manderley (the estate she finds herself mistress of), and the noir element of a creepy mystery she must solve to survive. It's a brilliant book but easy reading and I highly recommend it for a Saturday afternoon read in front of the fire when the blustery fall wind is blowing outside."
Jennifer (5 out of 5 stars)