This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

This is my February book club choice, which hits the "classics". Funny as I had never, ever heard of this book. I was told that it would be similar to Jane Eyre, which I LOVE.

The first 60 pages won me over. An older rich arrogant man, much like my beloved Mr. Rochester, woos the very young, naive narrator of this story. It was a whirlwind romance that just swept me off my feet. I almost tweeted about it but kept myself in check, since I had approximately 300 more pages to read.

I am glad I did wait. While I didn't hate the book, it didn't do for me what Jane Eyre did for me, which was to bring me to the most wonderful world of enchantment.

First, the story spoiler: Rebecca is narrated by a woman who is never named. I thought I missed her introduction when I read Maxim de Winter, upon meeting the narrator, say to her "You have a very lovely and unusual name". I couldn't find it and while I almost read into it on wikipedia, I decided against it and deal with either 1) finding out her name later in the book or b) looking it up after I finished it.

Max and the narrator eventually marry and much of the novel takes place in Manderley, Maxim's estate in England. The new Mrs. de Winter has to live within the shadow of the first Mrs. de Winter, who bears the same name as the title of the book. She feels incompetent to live in the shoes of the now-deceased wife, who was the most beautiful, the most capable, the most talented, the most socially engaging person ever to exist.

The welcomed romance was very limiting. What was impossible to deal with was the madness of the unnamed narrator, who continued to create outcomes of situations that never existed: 'oh the servants must be thinking this of me and here is how the conversation must go' and then there would be great detail of every conversation and thought the servants, or the people around Manderly, would speak of. It was soooooo annoying.

And while I can deal with the era of a woman being meek to men, it was insanely frustrating in this novel because, in the first 60 pages, the narrator was pretty strong-willed...well, at least in her mindset. But as a married woman, she continued to lack any confidence and would plead with her husband, as she knelt as his feet, to be kind to her; to not fight. AAAAACCCCCK!

While I enjoyed the book, I skimmed many a'paragraph due to it's long, drawn out descriptions...but especially the parts of made up scenarios that Mrs. de Winter thought out in her head. I found those so unnecessary, yet it proliferated the pages over and over and over.

The end? It was quite sudden. It was a strange way to end - so abrupt when the novel opened with an aged couple, Mr. and Mrs. de Winter. There was no farewell from the narrator who opened the book; it just simply ended with the lasting image of Manderley. I would have liked to have known what became of them.

During my search for information on Rebecca, before I aborted the plan, I did find that Alfred Hitchcock directed the Oscar winning 1940 film Rebecca based on this novel. I was puzzled as, you know as much as I do, Hitchcock is a thriller dude. It's now on my netflix queue, to find out how the book looks on film.

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