A Musing: Rebecca

(How sassy is Daphne du Maurier!?!? VERY sassy!)

I stayed up past midnight every night this week with Rebecca. What a great story. The twists! The twists had twists! I was enthralled. I kept trying to figure out what would happen (and was completely wrong. I love that!).

While this book works as a consuming narrative, it also has so much more to it. It’s a beautiful meditation on the ephemeral nature of happiness. Not being able to hold it, save it, or go back to it.

If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.

I also thought it was a very complex exploration of the changes the 20th century brought to the landed gentry of England. The nameless (in every sense of the word) narrator, the horrid, gossipy, rich American Mrs. Van Hopper, the servants (OMG Mrs. Danvers), the “brains, beauty, and breeding” of Rebecca (and what that ultimately stands for, in the end), and the structure of Manderley which exerts as much force in the story as any living, breathing character.

There are also the Gothic elements. Some people have called this a 20th century Jane Eyre. I get that on a superficial level, but I do think this novel has different concerns at its heart. Which reminds me — if you liked Rebecca, and you haven’t read Sarah Waters The Little Stranger, I think you might like it. It deals with some of the same themes in post World War II England.

LOVED Rebecca. I now can’t wait to see what Hitchcock did with it in his 1940 film. I am sure I’m going to be a heart-beating, edge of my seat mess!

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10 comments

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  2. Natalie

    I loved Rebecca, but I found myself examining the mood rather than the historical/social themes. Now I have a good excuse for a reread! It also sounds as though I’ll have to put The Little Stranger on my reading list. And just a note about the Hitchcock film – it’s very, very good, but just be warned that the production code necessitated a few changes to the plot.

    • jackiemania

      The book is so multifaceted that you can easily enjoy it for many different reasons. I think the suspenseful plot made it very popular (and is what kept me up past midnight!!) but there is so much more there.

      I heard about the changes because of the code — I don’t like the idea of them, but if anyone could still make something impeccable within those constraints, it would be Hitchcock! I also heard that he “edited in camera” — shot what he was sure he’d use — so that the studio couldn’t force him to further change his work. I moved the movie to the top of my queue last night so I can see it soon.

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