Book Review: Rebecca

Well, I guess I can no longer say I hate the classics.

Our nameless protagonist is a 21 year old lady’s companion without many prospects for her future. However that abruptly changes when she receives a marriage proposal from Maxim de Winter, a wealthy and high status widower of only a year. Suddenly she is swept away to the idyllic Manderley without any idea of what running a household entails. Between constant social blunders and the looming presence of Maxim’s late wife, Rebecca, the new Mrs. de Winter must fight for her place at Maxim’s side.

Full disclosure: this will be a gushy review.There is something absolutely beautiful, captivating, enthralling about this book. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. I got one copy from the library and one on my computer to have it with me at all times. And as soon as I finished, I scoured E-bay for a good five hours to find a first edition copy (which will have to wait to buy until I win the lottery, or you guys make me famous. Either one works). To say I was a bit obsessed was an understatement.

And what was absolutely jarring was the realization that my obsession mirrored the protagonist’s. Throughout the novel she can only think about one thing: Rebecca. How much Max loved her, Frank loved her, the staff loved her. What she looked like and what her mannerisms were. She ate, slept, and breathed thoughts of Rebecca. And in a way, that obsession was infectious. Rebecca was all I could think about as well. There was something so very alive about her character. We all meet at least one Rebecca in our lives.

The mystery of the protagonist is both infuriating and artful. Her lack of a name other than “Mrs. de Winter” only serves to emphasize her plainness and role as an imposter in Rebecca’s place: her only identity is the one she feels she stole. She is almost insufferably dull, as well as painfully shy. On the one hand I sympathized with her feelings of inadequacy, but on the other I wanted to jump through the page and scream at her to stand up for herself. It was a truly maddening mix of emotions.

Then there is the art of the writing itself. De Maurier doesn’t just show you Manderley, she takes you there and brings you its very heart. Although there were no true ghosts or paranormal entities, it sure felt like there were. A kind of dark, sinister mystery is woven into every word of Rebecca, giving it a completely horrific feel without any actual jump scares. Mrs. Danvers, the wicked caretaker of the house, had me nearly shaking at some points in the novel.

My only complaint was predictability. I had three theories early on in the book, and was disappointed to find that one of them was correct (and the least interesting, in my opinion). However, there was still a little plot twist I didn’t see coming that kind of made up for it. Either way, the journey as a whole was amazing, and one I am likely to visit in my dreams, much as our protagonist begins her story.

Finally, I feel it would be remiss if I didn’t address some of the problematic aspects of the book. There is some archaic terminology used for disabled people, as well as a rude depictions of them. There is also an instance of brown face and possible racial slur used. As Warner Brother comments, while these are representative of the time this book was written in, and wrong at any time, to pretend they never took place would be ignoring the fact that they happened.

Happy Reading!

Rating: 4.5/5
Pacing: Slow-medium
Intended audience: Adult
Content warnings: *SPOILERS AHEAD* murder, incest, drowning, animal abuse, mentions of suicide

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74 thoughts on “Book Review: Rebecca

  1. Beautiful review. Rebecca is one of my all time favourite books and it’s just soo atmospheric and the writing is so beautiful. I am so glad to see you loving it 🥰

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  2. Ages ago, my grandfather recommended Rebecca to me and I couldn’t imagine he was right about how good the book was. I just picked it up last year and read it and turns out (like so many things), he was right! Agree with you that’s it’s a bit dated with some of it’s word choice and views, but the story is still amazing. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  3. I cannot gush about this book enough. I remember reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen and being disappointed with the GOTH factor in it, but I picked this book up right after and it ticked all the boxes.
    Also, the movie (the recent one) did not do justice to this book, like, AT ALL!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was in high school our senior English teacher gave us a list of classics and let us choose which ones to read. All of the guys ended up reading Rebecca after a football player read it and told everyone how much he loved it. It is very good

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  5. Rebecca is such a fun and creepy book! As you mentioned, the writing has problematic elements that you find a lot in books from that time, but there are good elements, too. That awareness is something I always have to navigate when I’m reading older books, and it’s good to point it out. Since you liked this, I think you may enjoy Laura by Vera Caspary, which is also quite sinister and dramatic, filled to the brim with gray characters. (The 1940s adaptation is also one of my favorite movies.) Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It’s been years, and now I’m thinking I should revisit Rebecca, too.

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  6. Amazing review, I’m so pleased you enjoyed this! I read it for the first time this year and really liked it as well. Rebecca is so present throughout her novel despite never appearing in person, and I loved how the author captured this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rebecca is such an amazing book, and this was a great review. I’m currently reading My Cousin Rachel, which is somewhat similar – I’d recommend you giving it a go.

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  8. Excellent review! I used to love teaching this book to my high school students. It was one classic that most seemed to enjoy and appreciate. I haven’t seen the new film, but the old Hitchcock adaptation is pretty good.

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      1. Some of them were so boring, but I always tried to sneak in others that I thought the kids would like. This, a few Agatha Christie novels, Roald Dahl short stories (they loved “Lamb to the Slaughter”). Du Mauries’ short story The Birds was a fave too.

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  9. Great review! This really is a truly amazing book – I ADORED it the first time I read it and have seen devoured several more of Daphne Du Maurier’s stories 😍 I totally understand your obsession! If you liked the thriller twist you should try Jamaica Inn (this really scared me!) but if you want a slightly nicer, more romantic tale then I loved Frenchman’s Creek – it’s not a happy ever after but the romance is really beautiful 📚

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  10. Oh my gosh I’m so glad you’ve read this. It’s one of my favourite books I’ve ever read. You did it proud in this review 🙂 loved it

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      1. Ohh I’m the same when I do reviews. You’ve done a fantastic job here though 🙂

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  11. I’ve never actually read “Rebecca” though the first sentence is very famous (“Last night I dreamt of Manderly again.”)

    I have seen the new adaptation though with Lilly James and Armie Hammer, which I liked (though apparently no one thinks its very good). But people were mostly aghast that Hitchcock’s classic was remade.

    Will have to check out the book.

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