“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
As I read the opening line to Rebecca a haze formed around me, the lights drifted away, the sounds of life as I know it dissipated and I fell in to the world Daphne Du Maurier created in this wonderful novel.
“It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes to the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.
No smoke came from the chimney, and the little lattice windows gaped forlorn. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me.”
And I was just as lost with those opening paragraphs as I had been the first time I read Rebecca.
As a child I identified with the narrator as she stumbled her way from Monte Carlo to her new life at Manderley as the new bride of Max De Winter.
The house was a sepulchre, our fear and suffering lay buried in the ruins. There would be no resurrection. When I thought of Manderley in my waking hours I would not be bitter. I should think of it as it might have been, could I have lived there without fear. I should remember the rose-garden in summer, and the birds that sang at dawn. Tea under the chestnut tree, and the murmur of the sea coming up to us from the lawns below.
This truly is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lives. It held me as I floated along side the narrator through the pains of young love, the uncertainty of fitting in, the dark gloom of imagining yourself unworthy when compared to someone who came before.
She was in the house still as Mrs. Danvers had said, she was in that room in the west wing, she was in the library, in the morning-room, in the gallery above the hall. Even in the little flower-room, where her mackintosh still hung. And in the garden, and in the woods, and down in the stone cottage on the beach. Her footsteps sounded in the corridors, her scent lingered on the stairs. The servants obeyed her orders still, the food we ate was the food she liked. Her favourite flowers filled the rooms. Her clothes were in the wardrobes in her room, her brushes were on the table, her shoes beneath the chair, her nightdress on her bed. Rebecca was still the mistress of Manderley.
But it is much more than that.
A dark gloomy horror story. Manderley itself breathes and lives and the love, the hate, the tragedy can be felt in every vase and painting, even under the trees that shade the rose garden.
Some have said that the narrator’s character is insipid. I disagree. Maybe because I know her fears.
I love this book today as much as I did back then.
Great writing never gets old, or dated, it just floats through generations like a supernatural spirit.
Oh and BTW…the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock movie is a must see. He brings out every nuance that Du Maurier penned in to her words.
On a slightly different note…those of you who know me will understand the necessity of including this. As I Googled for images of Rebecca…well TBs are just darn well everywhere…I found this !
This is the start of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca…not only read the book…watch the movie.
- ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier (kimbofo.typepad.com)
- Rebecca – Alfred Hitchcock (mrmovietimes.com)
- DreamWorks remakes ‘Rebecca’ (digitalspy.co.uk)
- Rebecca remake in the works (guardian.co.uk)