Book Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

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 Synopsis: While vacationing in Monte Carlo, Maxim de Winter meets our unnamed narrator, and they marry and return to the de Winter estate, Manderley. The new Mrs. de Winter constantly comes across reminders of the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca.

Review: What a beautiful, marvelous, atmospheric novel. I loved this book, savored every word, and can’t wait to someday read it again!

From the very first sentence (quoted above) to the last (not noted here for spoilers), Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca draws you in and grabs your attention. And after finishing the book, that first sentence is absolute perfection.

The story is told from the second Mrs. de Winter’s point of view, and her name is never mentioned. While this is super irritating at times (especially when trying to write a synopsis and review!), it only adds to the mystery and drama. She is every woman. The reader almost becomes her, you are so thrust into her mind, that I think if we knew her name it would be distracting. And it also makes the name of Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife, loom that much larger.

I can’t say too much about the plot, because I don’t want to ruin the story for those who haven’t read it yet, but the plot twists and turns, and I was surprised in some places.  The plot races along and isn’t resolved until the last line of the book, which I just love.

There is one character that I must mention however, and that is Mrs. Danvers, the head housekeeper at Manderley. There is one scene between her and the second Mrs. de Winter that is so spellbinding. I was on the edge of my seat, and it was a scene where two people were just talking. You can feel the tension on the page; you can sense the shift in writing style, the pace of the words. It was mesmerizing. I would love to say a lot more about Mrs. Danvers, but I’ll refrain because the book deserves to be read with as little knowledge about it as possible.

The writing and descriptions of Manderley are wonderful. You are transported to the home, to the crashing waves of the sea; you can smell the flowers as you wander the property. I loved it.

Since du Maurier was writing so beautifully about nature, I checked her Wikipedia page to read more about her, and I was thrilled to see that she wrote the short story that Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds was inspired by. The Birds is one of my favorite movies and Bodega Bay where the movie was filmed isn’t too far from where I live, so there is always the fear of THE BIRDS looming in my mind.

What I found so haunting about Rebecca is that the horror and suspense involved has so much to do with what your imagination brings to the book. It isn’t a scary book, as in monsters are going to come eat me in the night, but it has an atmosphere of suspense and psychological mystery. It was very unsettling in a delicious way. My mind was constantly wandering around Manderley, I was constantly trying to figure out what had happened to Rebecca and how Maxim felt. Manderley had me in its grasp and I could not escape (nor did I want to!).

Bottom Line: Exceptional book full of atmosphere and tension. I will dream about Manderley tonight and many nights to come.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “I suppose sooner or later in the life of everyone comes a moment of trial. We all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle in the end. We have conquered ours, or so we believe.”

  • “Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.”

You might like to read:

  • The Distant Hours by Kate Morton: Filled with beautiful gothic images, The Distant Hours has a crumbling castle, a jilted bride, a long-lost letter, and secrets. A fabulous, atmospheric novel that is best read on a stormy day in front of a fireplace.

I need to read:

  • Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn: Her other famous work, I’ve wanted to read this for some time!
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Reading Rebecca in my backyard

31 thoughts on “Book Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

  1. Rebecca’s been low-ish on my TBR list for years, but everything you’ve said makes me want to go pick it up now. This sounds like exactly the change of pace I’ll need, after all these YA fantasies I’ve been buried under. Great review! =)

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    1. Thanks!! Daphne du Maurier’s writing is so beautiful, it is almost musical. Really makes the YA stuff look bad in comparison! Looking forward to your thoughts on the book if you decide to read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a terrible picture taker. Yours look really good. My Instagram is mess. I try to take decent pictures, but the lighting is never right in my house, and when I tried to take some out on the bay, it was too sunny to see the books. I can’t win. My camera doesn’t like me. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Maybe try taking the pictures outside either early in the morning or later in the evening? I know nothing about photography, and am just having fun and trying to figure it out, but my lighting seems to be best (and the most interesting) either early or late (at least outside). All of my pictures I’ve just taken with my IPhone. I did buy the Camera+ app for IPhone, and I’m having fun using that for basic editing/cropping and such. There is also a free app called VSCO that I see alot of people use on Instagram, but I haven’t tried that one myself to see if it’s any good. I don’t have the greatest inside lighting at my house, so most of my pics end up being taken outside. 🙂 Keep trying!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks for the tips! I have so many photo editor programs, and I still can’t get it right. I’ll check out the one for the iPhone. I’ve been using my phone, too, and nothing is working. I thought for sure the pictures along the bay would look amazing, and while the water looked incredible, the rest of the picture was just okay. I’ll keep going until I get it right. I think I need the right inspiration. 🙂

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  2. Wonderful review! My grandmother recommended this book to me years ago but I never ended up getting a copy. Your review has made me want to run out and get a copy. From what you described, it sounds like a book I would love. Your pictures are lovely too! 🙂

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    1. Rebecca and The Birds are so atmospheric! I believe Hitchcock directed the movie version of Rebecca, which I think I saw a really long time ago, but I don’t remember anything about the movie.

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  3. Great review! Rebecca is one of my favourite books. I completely agree with what you said about the unsettling atmosphere… all of the Daphne du Maurier books I’ve ready so far have been like that, and I LOVE it. I like how she manages to give all these sinister undertones to completely ordinary things. You should definitely check out The Birds and all of her other short stories, they’re fantastic and beautifully written.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I can see why it is one of your favorite books – it was just so beautiful. I loved all of the descriptions and how it was written. Glad to hear that her books all have that unsettling atmosphere. I really need to read more of her works!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think I saw the Hitchcock movie at least 10 years ago or so, and I don’t remember anything about it. I’d like to watch it again now that I’ve read the book, and to compare the two. I heard Hitchcock did something a bit different with the ending, so I’d be interested to see it.
      I love reading classics! I’m currently on War and Peace and unfortunately am not making very much progress with it.

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      1. I’ve never tried War and Peace. Russian novels and I don’t get along too well. lol The difference between the movie and the book is that he didn’t kill her. It was an accident. They didn’t want people to hate their handsome star. 😀

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