Alena: A Novel and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $27.95
  • Save: $7.02 (25%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
Want it tomorrow, April 22? Order within and choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Pages are in very good condition with no marks and no wear. Book is in very good condition.
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

Alena: A Novel Hardcover


See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$20.93
$6.50 $6.46 $27.95

Frequently Bought Together

Alena: A Novel + The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles: A Novel + The Invention of Wings: A Novel
Price for all three: $48.05

Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Big Spring Books
Editors' Picks in Spring Releases
Ready for some fresh reads? Browse our picks for Big Spring Books to please all kinds of readers.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (January 23, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594632472
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594632471
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

“Last night I dreamed of Nauquasset again.” Fans of Daphne du Maurier’s timeless Rebecca will revel in this contemporary homage to her gothic masterpiece. Though updating the characters—the Max de Winter stand-in is gay; and the modern Mrs. Danvers, a business manager—and the setting, the narrative’s excruciating tension hovering beneath the surface remains the same. When the unnamed narrator, a naive young art historian and lowly museum assistant, is offered a position as the curator of a trendy Cape Cod museum, she jumps at the chance. However, all is not as golden as it initially seems at the Nauquasset (the Nauk). Bernard Augustin, the museum’s brooding owner, and the rest of the employees seem to be mired in the past, as the memory of Alena, the previous curator, who vanished more than two years ago, still holds sway over the Nauk and its staff. Trying to exert her own authority and creative vision amid an ongoing investigation into Alena’s mysterious disappearance, she is thwarted at every turn by the phantom presence of her predecessor. --Margaret Flanagan

Review

"[A] faithful, patient reimagining of Daphne du Maurier’s novel…The writing at times is so fine you wish this weren’t a retold story…Alena is… a brilliant take-down of the self-serious art world, rendering it helplessly camp by sprinkling some of its august and/or provocative names….over this…pop-culture totem.” –New York Times Book Review

“Luminous and sure-footed…The triumph of Pastan’s story is that it manages to be more than a companion piece to du Maurier’s. Alena proves itself an intriguing and substantial novel on its own merits, while still offering the kind of gothic plunge we remember and crave from our younger years.” –The Washington Post

“Perfect for curling up with on a winter’s night … so eerie and elegantly suspenseful that I could see myself rereading it, the way I reread Rebecca every few years or so.” –Maureen Corrigan, NPR Books

“This artful take on du Maurier’s gothic classic Rebecca has its own surprise twists.” –Good Housekeeping

"Pastan is gifted with sentient and lyrical writing, and she paints a scene exactly…For readers who love characterizations and language from fresh sources of inspiration, there is good reason to read this book.” –Washington Independent Review of Books

"Like a good reproduction, Alena preserves important trademarks of the original art — creepy and claustrophobic."
Entertainment Weekly

“With her evocative prose, Pastan matches the hothouse tension of Du Maurier’s story while infusing “Alena” with its own hairpin twists and turns and devastating denouement… The result is a lyrical murder mystery that is just as tantalizing to those who have never read “Rebecca” as the many for whom it is a cherished classic." –The Brooklyn Eagle


"For people who love Rebecca, there are all kind of allusions and asides—names, locations and plot points. … But Alena stands on its own.” –BookPage

“Pastan builds the tension and mystery with a steady, melancholic tone, entirely gorgeous and entirely her own.” –Bustle

“Fans of Daphne du Maurier’s timeless Rebecca will revel in this contemporary homage to her gothic masterpiece.” --Booklist

"Riveting... Flush with erotic intrigues... Pastan has written a smart, chilling thriller that leaves readers thoroughly spooked." –Publishers Weekly

"This skillfully crafted novel, which sustains the tension of a ghost story, is both an homage to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and an insightful meditation on our obsessive preoccupation with death—simultaneously creepy and entrancing.” –John Irving

"I was utterly captivated by this novel, as much by the beautifully evoked Cape Cod landscapes and the glimpses into the rarefied world of art as by the increasingly suspenseful mysteries at its center. Rachel Pastan is a marvelous storyteller." –Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier and Swim Back to Me

"In this exquisite reimagining of a much-loved novel, Rachel Pastan weaves together a mystery, a love story, and a meditation on the nature of art." –Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier's style of writing.
MARY EVELYN MORRIS
I would have preferred much more insight into the characters' motives, their psyches.
ms. tex
What I didn't like about this book: wow, I have a lot to write here.
Jodi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Antigone Walsh VINE VOICE on January 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Maybe so but it also smacks of unoriginality and marked lack of creativity. The author here has patterned this novel on the gothic romance Rebecca. And sadly, it pales by comparison.

As in Rebecca, the nameless heroine is rescued from an insensitive and overbearing employer by a wealthy and cultured man. Instead of being installed as the mistress of an estate, she is named curator of a small but impressive museum in Cape Cod. It is a position she is woefully unqualified for. Her predecessor was Alena, whose mysterious disappearance triggered whispers of murder. Unfortunately for our heroine, the museum comes complete with a creepy, insubordinate staff and is still governed by the unseen hand of Alena.

for me, one of the greatest weaknesses in the book is the heroine. She is both inexcusably incompetent and weak. Rebecca's heroine was young and inexperienced but her innocence made her an attractive counterpoint to Rebecca. She eventually grows a backbone and becomes strong and confident in her relationship with her husband. She evolves and remains unspoiled by the trappings of wealth and position. Unlike Rebecca whose sophistication and beauty hide her dark heart, Alena has little allure. She seems spoiled, self-centered and a best a drama queen. Her story and demise does not cause the heart to ache and the ultimate resolution is a denouement.

The author can write, no doubt about it. But I would urge her to create, not imitate. Rebecca fans will still dream of Manderlay. Nauguasset has a long way to go.
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ms. tex on March 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I had to make a decision halfway through this novel as to whether I was going to finish it or not. I'd paid for a hardback copy so I forged ahead in order to feel that, to some degree, I'd gotten my money's worth. Frankly, I did a lot of skimming. Page after page is devoted to depicting, in excruciating detail, the colors in the ocean, the sky at sunset, the breeze through the grass, Bernard's eyes, Bernard's hair, Agnes's red earrings, Alena's old office, Alena's office decor, Alena's clothes . . . You get the idea, I hope.

I do appreciate stories that give the reader a clear idea of the surroundings but I felt the description overwhelmed the story here. I didn't need to be told how the museum on the cliff looked from every angle in various degrees of sunlight. I didn't need to be told how tall Bernard was more than a couple of times, I didn't need to be told how the waves from the ocean rise and fall on every other page. I would have preferred much more insight into the characters' motives, their psyches. But most of the characters speak as if they are writers who are dictating long, speechifying stretches of dialogue. The most genuine character is Louise but she only appears in the first quarter of the book.

I feel a little bad that I disliked this book as much as I do. I'm sure it was a labor of love and that the author invested untold amounts of time in it. It was just an epic fail for me.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Schoonover VINE VOICE on February 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Daphne du Maurier's famous Gothic romance REBECCA is one of my favorite novels and I have reread that book several times. The new book ALENA by Rachel Pastan keeps many of the same themes and plot turns despite its different setting and time period. For the most part REBECCA's major characters have obvious counterparts in ALENA. Yet REBECCA is a classic romance novel very similar to and probably patterned on JANE EYRE while ALENA can not be that.

In REBECCA the famously unnamed narrator/heroine (also unnamed in ALENA) is almost desperately in love with a much older, wealthy widower named Maxim whom she suddenly marries after a whilrlwind courtship in Monte Carlo. After their honeymoon she returns with him to his stately English home Manderly. There she finds herself always comparing herself to his deceased seemingly perfect first wife the Rebecca of the title. In ALENA Maxim's counterpart Bernard whom she meets in Venice is also older cultured, wealthy and in mourning for the death of a female close to him. Bernard also befriends the rather awkward narrator and takes her under his wing. But Bernard is openly gay and he wants a curator for his museum on Cape Cod to replace Alena who has drowned. He is not interested in a wife or romantic partner. With a gay leading man in this clever copy there is not the romantic tension the original novel has and the romantic components in REBECCA are very appealing or at least they were to me as a teenager when I first read the book.

The positive elements of ALENA include how well the author Rachel Pastan describes the world of contemporary art in which she has set her novel. Pastan is also able to copy the voice and style of du Maurier's REBECCA to an admirable degree. Yet this well rendered counterfeit is not as enjoyable of a read as the original in my viewpoint because there is no romance to make the heart flutter.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Doña on January 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Rachel Pastan’s Alena is a recasting of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, but don’t let that mislead you into thinking they are clones. Although Pastan’s novel retains the psychological complexity of an unnamed protagonist who is in constant competition with her very dead and very perfect predecessor, Alena is cast in a new and original register. Most of du Maurier’s Gothic trappings have been replaced by a for-the-most-part realistic picture of the contemporary art world. In fact, that was one of several reasons why I was so attracted to Pastan’s most recent novel: it takes us inside today’s art world, warts and all. It presents a world full of humbuggery, but also bubbling with creative vitality. Many of the artists are actual contemporary artists, so part of the fun of reading this novel is to Google them to get a parallel visual tour. I was also impressed by the novel’s pacing and its ending. I get easily frustrated by recent award-laden contemporary novels that have no sense of pacing. Their authors narcissistically assume that the reader would love to read a description of every crack and every weed in every crack in the road. In contrast, Alena is a finely crafted novel that still manages to get from point A to point B without unnecessary dawdling. Put simply, it has a compelling plot. Finally, I was impressed by the ending. As I approached the final fifty pages of Alena, I found myself internally muttering, “It is such a wonderful novel so far! When will the ending ruin everything?” In reality, the ending was one of those perfect closures…a sudden surprise that paradoxically struck me as altogether natural and expected.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search
ARRAY(0xa7fcbe64)

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?