Do you believe that at my age I'd never read Rebecca? A couple of people I mentioned it to were surprised, but I reckoned it's never too late to put things right - so I read it. And what a delight! This book is just wonderful. I was worried that it was going to be a bit stuffy and old fashioned, with it having been written in the 1930s. I thought it wouldn't have the 19th century charm of Jane Eyre or Little Women, nor the excitement of more modern literature. But I hadn't expected the way it totally took me into the narrator's thoughts, willing her to do or not to do things, or feeling such pain, or relief, on her behalf.
The story is told in the first person by the narrator, whose name we never learn, a young woman whose parents have both died and has no other family, and is employed as a "companion" to an American woman, Mrs Van Hopper, who is travelling in Europe. The narrator is naive and a bit clumsy, she hates her job. At 21 years old, she can't stand having to entertain Mrs Van Hopper's boring friends. But the two women meet Max de Winter, an English widower, who happens to be staying at the same hotel in Monte Carlo. When Mrs Van Hopper is taken ill, the narrator has more time on her hands, and accepts Mr. de Winter's offer to go for a drive. Their relationship quickly blossoms, and when it is time for Mrs Van Hopper and the narrator to move back to the States, Max de Winter proposes to the young woman who is half his age, they marry and travel in the Mediterranean before going back to Manderley, his huge English mansion that has so many reminders of his dead wife, Rebecca. The housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, will not let anyone forget what a wonderful woman Rebecca was. But maybe things are not quite what they seem...
Daphne du Maurier tells a gripping story. Her characters are fascinating, and the final twist takes you totally by surprise. A pearl of a book.
This is the first book review on my blog. One of my birthday resolutions was to keep track of the books I read, and this is the first book I've finished since then. By writing them on my blog I'll be able to keep track, and you'll be able to read the reviews, and maybe enjoy reading some of the books too.