Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’
When I read the back cover, I was astonished to find that the book was named after a dead lady. As I continued reading, what was more astonishing was the narrator – the second Mrs. de Winter hasn’t given her first name in the book – at all. It makes me think that she didn’t give her enough importance, that her name had been rubbed off by Rebecca.
I found the book developed or rather grew up, as the I turned the pages – progressing from the haunting description of a beautiful, nay, exquisite estate to the silly thoughts of a young woman. There are halts in the journey but it never really bored me. The worrisome thoughts of wife whose love has been spurned combined with the awkwardness of a woman who has been placed in a high station in life continued to keep me engaged and musing. The habit of Mrs. de Winter to muse continuously of what others think of her, is something which is one can readily identify with. It is the condescending attitude of the servant, however, which is a reminder that we are treated as we allow others to treat us. And this is applicable not just to the servants but every character in the book from Mrs. Van Hopper to Mr. Crawley. The people at Manderley ate out of the first Mrs. de Winter’s hand and rebuked the presence of the second.
Looking at the Mrs. de Winter’s love for her husband, it is a fascination – how she grows up from her school girl fantasy, the ornamented ambition of being someone important and looked up to by others to her regret. Like Mr. de Winter says, she loses her sparkle of innocence. Though Mr. de Winters is surely a man of importance, in the end, he is humbled and well so.
What fascinates me to no end is loyalty – of Mrs. Danvers and that of Mr. Crawley. Each to their own employer. The former is almost fanatic and maniacal and the latter is a calm and stern loyalty. Mrs. Danvers, I thought was a ghost at Manderley from her appearance to her actions and Mr. Crawley reminded me of the phrase, ‘once bitten twice shy.’
The story starting off as a romance, builds the thrill and climaxes into one of the most beautiful piece of suspense novel. The ending is a relief as if you were purged of all your sins, the end of a brilliant charade.
In the end, all that everything boiled down to was Manderley – it was the cause, the journey and the result.
It has been difficult for me to write about this book but determinedly, I have. Rebecca is one of those classics, I have read about in books. To write the truth, I found the book a little tedious in the beginning. I presumed the plot and found it a little slow. The fact that a friend had left it in the middle, of course did not help the cause. However, as I urged myself to read on, I couldn’t give up until I had finished it all. And how glad I am – the slant of R of Rebecca’s handwriting shall forever be engraved in my memory even if I have never seen it.