"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again",In my time blogging there are many books that you see reviewed over and over again. Rebecca was one such book. I had never read Daphne du Maurier before, but I was constantly hearing about her. One day when I was at the second-hand bookstore I picked up a copy of Rebecca to finally see what it was all about. The only problem was I couldn't convince myself to actually read it. The only cover I could find was this one:
With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.
I had heard this book was Gothic and maybe even a bit creepy, but this cover just made me think 'romance novel'. I try to not let myself judge a book by the cover, but I wasn't succeeding with this one.
In the fall there is a reading challenge called the 'R.I.P. Challenge'. In 2010 I was seeing Rebecca on many lists either going to be reading it or recommending it as a book for that time of year. I kept looking at the above cover and thinking 'Really?'. I am obviously missing something. While searching through the library catalogue one day, though, I found that they had added a new copy of Rebecca. Despite having a copy sitting on my TBR pile, I requested it and finally read it. I included this cover in my original review:
Here are a couple excerpts from my original review:
I loved the characters in this book. Mrs. Danvers was a really well-written villain. You never knew what to expect from her at any given time. It was fascinating to watch her character progress and discover just how crazy she could be. She is very unhappy that Maxim has remarried and still feels like Rebecca is a presence in the household. She is determined to keep her memory well alive and to do anything in her power to bring about the end of the new Mrs. de Winter. I think Daphne du Maurier captured her on the page brilliantly. She really came alive for me. Then, there was Rebecca herself. She played the perfect ghost. Even though she was not alive for the novel, you still knew her really well by the end of it. She may be dead, but she has not actually left Manderley. From the surface she seemed like the perfect hostess for a beautiful house, but as the story progresses and the layers are peeled back you will be fascinated by the character that appears.
I just loved this book so much! When I started it I was constantly interrupted and only managed to get through 200 pages. The next day I managed to block most things out and read to the end. I was so excited to see how the story played out, but on the other hand I was really disappointed that it was over with. There haven't been a lot of books like this so far this year, so I was so happy that I finally found one! It is was atmospheric, Gothic, and the perfect book for this time of the year. If you are participating in the R.I.P. challenge and haven't read this book before, you really should! I am glad that I did!
For Christmas of 2010, I decided to buy my own copy of Rebecca with an appealing cover. I have this one on my stacks:
I had hoped to reread it this year, but I think I will probably save it for the fall.
What do you think of the various covers of Rebecca? Would you be a cover snob like me?
Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940):
I have wanted to see this movie for ages, but I couldn't find a copy. I had no idea that you could watch the entire thing on YouTube. I still would love to own it at some point; but over the winter I sat down and revisited Manderley for the first time in over a year. From the opening line I was excited. I have seen Alfred Hitchcock movies over the years, but never this one. I expected it to be very good and it was. The movie stars Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine in the two lead roles. Judith Anderson plays Mrs. Danvers. It won best picture at the 1940 Academy Awards and you can easily tell why. It stays very close to the original story and the mood of the movie is perfect. It is very much worth a watch!
Now it is your turn. Let us know what you think of the covers for the book, the book itself, or your own experiences with the movie in the comments.