Review: Daphne du Maurier‘s “Rebecca”

by writereaderly

daphne du maurier rebeccaThe new Mrs de Winter, nameless and sapless, young and painfully naïve, is married by romantic lead Maxim and taken to live at his splendid manor Manderley. But what is the truth of the eponymous Rebecca? And will their relationship survive?

Rebecca was quite gripping for the most part, and I enjoyed the wry little insights the gormless heroine had as she imagined others’ lives. But she, my god, was painfully inexperienced, and oh-so-willing to be moulded by those richer and more powerful than her; if one complies so eagerly, does it still count as manipulation? I’d like to say that I think it’s a novel of its time in that the (spoiler alert) murder of Rebecca by her husband because she slept around was absolutely justified, sanctioned and wilfully concealed by his new wife, the law, the upstanding agent on his property — the upper classes have their supporters, of course — but a “crime of passion” was until recently *still* a legitimate defence to murder in France and certain US states. And don’t even get me started on how empty the heroine is, bereft of name, personality and desires — urgh. Still, I was pretty embedded and I would read others by du Maurier if I thought she’d gotten some feminist spunk into her.

Where it came from: Opshop
Time and manner of reading:
Three days of fragmentary but mostly absorbed reads
Where it went: Farm bookshelf
Reminds me of/that: Femicide ain’t gone nowhere, kids
Who I
d recommend it to: Readers after a not-too-badly written, patriarchal classic
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley