‘Rebecca’ Review

Michael Parke, Staff Writer

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Those having taken AP Language will recognize the name of the author. Those who are currently in AP Language may or may not. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, is a thriller novel that takes place in the fictional home of Manderley, set in Cornwall, England. She wrote it while in Egypt, her husband on an assignment, her native country far away.

Photo Courtesy Michael Parke

Once again I ventured from my house to the town library and this time emerged with a hardcover, Reader’s Digest edition from 1994, complete with a small pamphlet detailing the famed Dame’s life, how she came to write the book and the wonderful illustrations within (done by Nanette Biers). Readers begin with the famous “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” and follow the unnamed “I” through her tumultuous beginnings with Mrs. Van Hopper, assent to Manderley and life there with Max de Winter. Mrs. de Winter then has to navigate through the husband’s moodiness and the rather uptight head maid, Mrs. Danvers. Towards the end we see how impactful Rebecca was and is to the couple and community at large.

This is a fantastic book for people who liked Don’t Look Now, by du Maurier or those looking for an interesting twist on the romantic novel. She does not use the Freudian ideas of the uncanny through twins, recurring image, &c. Rather, she creates mood through the use of colors, tightness of the surroundings and sounds, amounting to quite an impressive air. The mystery is there also—two-thirds through I still couldn’t figure out why everyone was so afraid to mention Rebecca.

Photo Courtesy Michael Parke

When looking at other works of literature, there’s nothing really similar in terms of a complete thriller package of this style. Maybe in the use of the first person and colorful depiction of the setting, Arundel, by Kenneth Roberts, is a good comparison. Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen, also features a house that the heroine wishes to see—but in that novel the focus is more towards Catherine’s time between a group of friends and the man she likes. The problem is more serious in this book.

Alfred Hitchcock adapted Rebecca into a film of the same name in 1940, the first of three du Maurier stories to have been adapted by him. Although I haven’t watched it, I bet it’s a good film. As to the book, it was exhilarating. Du Maurier is really in her element and knows what she’s doing with all aspects of the story. It’s a classic that I’d recommend.


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‘Rebecca’ Review