So Lauren and I are doing this Epic Rec thing and this was her January pick for me :’)
Rebecca is narrated by a female character so boring she’s never given a name (legit, at no point do we learn her name because she is about as interesting as wallpaper) but don’t let that put you off because this is an amazing novel. As you might have guessed, Rebecca is actually about a woman long since dead; the narrator is haunted by Rebecca’s presence throughout the novel. The novel begins by introducing to our boring narrator living her boring life until ~love~. The mysterious, recently bereaved Max De Winter and our narrator fall into a courtship that ends in marriage; after their honeymoon, De Winter and his new wife return to his home, Manderley. The large, brooding English house – famous across the English countryside – is a character in and of itself, bringing a sinister and hostile presence to the narrative. Our narrator is super overwhelmed by her duties as a wife because she is rubbish at everything and clashes with the housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, who basically hates her on sight *claps gleefully* As the novel unfolds, our narrator becomes more paranoid and upset about Rebecca’s presence in her life, not least because everyone ever can’t help but compare the two. We learn more and more about Rebecca are secrets are revealed, leading up to a rather brilliant climax.
The characters in this novel are so well-written, each one adding something unique to the narrative. Max de Winter is a brooding, angry character full of secrets while Mrs Danvers is an extraordinarily sinister phantom, malevolent and unhinged. What I really enjoyed about this novel though is how our narrator is ostensibly not the main character – just as Gatsby is the character focused on most despite Carroway narrating The Great Gatsby, Rebecca is the character that is the most important and it is her who controls and manipulates the narrative; our narrator is by default unreliable because she knows nothing, thereby presenting us with a story that is far different underneath than on the surface. Du Maurier is exceptional at writing about the Other Woman, and as a feminist text Rebecca is brilliant at what it does.
The characters’ relationships with each other are also fascinating – Mrs Danvers’ devotion to Rebecca is layered in subtext (it is worth noting that Du Maurier was bisexual and worked out many of her frustrations in her novels; Rebecca is no exception); De Winter’s relationships with both his wives reveal much about his character as well as making a very strong statement about patriarchal oppression. The relationship between Rebecca and our narrator is obviously the one given most importance in the text and it’s fascinating because the two characters are so different; they represent the duality that exists in all women – our narrator struggles with Rebecca because she is the angrier personality, the woman who refused to kneel to social expectations while the former only wishes to conform.
This is a brilliant novel and one that is definitely worth reading. We plan on harassing Amber into reading it at some point *nods*