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185 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An All-Time Classic
This book is one of the all-time greatest works of fiction, combining suspense, romance, and character development, all wrapped up in a mystery that is literally not resolved until the last page.
Modern readers should treat this story as a period piece of sorts; American readers in particular should bear in mind the differences between British and American...
Published on August 17, 1999

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36 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Meek Will Inherit the Earth
Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca is narrated by a timid young lady, barely an adult, who is left alone in the world after the death of her parents. Through fortuitous circumstances she meets Maxim de Winter, a wealthy widower and master of Manderley, a grand country house on England's coast. When this young lady - we never learn her name - enters de Winter's world, she is...
Published on December 28, 2004 by -_Tim_-


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185 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An All-Time Classic, August 17, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Rebecca (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is one of the all-time greatest works of fiction, combining suspense, romance, and character development, all wrapped up in a mystery that is literally not resolved until the last page.
Modern readers should treat this story as a period piece of sorts; American readers in particular should bear in mind the differences between British and American cultures, and also the historical differences (Rebecca was published in 1938), otherwise they are apt to find the story 'slow' or 'dull.'
Like any great mystery writer, du Maurier throws out subtle clues in the first third of the story; about halfway through, she begins to resolve these clues, and from then on, the story races at full steam. *Don't let* the seemingly slow introduction stop you from finishing the book; patient readers will be well- rewarded when they see how brilliantly du Maurier sets up her surprises.
The story revolves around the unusual marriage of the young, unworldly narrator (whose first name is never revealed, one of the book's charming idiosyncrasies)to the brooding 'landed gentleman,' Maxim de Winter. When she arrives at his grand country manor, Manderly (the house is perhaps the book's most potent character), she is immediately confronted by the other characters' feelings about Rebecca, Maxim de Winter's flamboyant late wife.
Perhaps du Maurier's greatest accomplishment, character-wise, is the way she develops Rebecca, who is already dead when the main action of the story begins, and never really appears 'on-screen,' so to speak. Rebecca is very much alive in the memories of Maxim, the house servants, friends and family members, but most crucially, of her personal maid, Mrs. Danvers (and also of Rebecca's sleazy cousin, Jack Favel). It is Mrs. Danvers who becomes the greatest nemesis of the narrator, and who makes the frightened young woman feel utterly unwanted and unloved in her new home. If Rebecca truly does haunt Manderly, Mrs. Danvers is her conduit to the world of the living.
After a treacherous episode that almost brings the narrator to the breaking point, a string of coincidences alters everything; the narrator learns the truth about what turns out to be a lot of mistaken assumptions. In the process, she herself grows into a far more confident person. The last quarter of the story is an absolute masterpiece, as the action takes one turn, then another, then another. And even when it seems that all the clues have been resolved, du Maurier saves one last whammy for the final page.
I first read this book twenty years ago, and it made more of an impression on me than just about anything else I've read since. I re-read it from time to time, and gain a new insight with every perusal.
In short, Rebecca is a wonderful, wonderful novel, and not to be missed. I can't recommend it highly enough-- read it, linger over it, enjoy it, and read it again. It's a true literary achievement.
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119 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We can never go back to Manderley again...", August 8, 2004
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rebecca (Audio Cassette)
This riveting tale of fear, suspicion, and love opens as the unnamed narrator reminisces about her former home, the grand English estate, Manderley. She had been young and shy, a lady's companion, when she met the wealthy recent widow, Maxim de Winter, fell in love with him, and married him in a matter of weeks. They returned to his home, where she was immediately overwhelmed with the responsibilities of running the house and dealing with her forbidding housekeeper as well as the memory of Maxim's first wife, Rebecca. She had been beautiful, sophisticated, and supremely confident, and the narrator felt lost and helpless in comparison. Her new husband was strangely distant to her, until a horrible secret was revealed that would change their lives and the very existence of Manderley.

Daphne Du Maurier has crafted a wonderfully spooky story with remarkably little action, but a great deal of atmosphere and a steadily mounting feeling of impending doom. The ravishing Rebecca is never seen, and yet she is the main character, dominating the story with her passions and cruelty. Another main "character" is the great house itself, which is described in such fascinating detail that I felt as if I had walked its long hallways, descended its grand stairs, and had tea in the library. The narrator is purposely kept anonymous to contrast her with the larger-than-life Rebecca, and Maxim is a seriously flawed but lovable man.

Anna Massey does not just read the story, she performs it, delighting the listener with her upper-class British accent, giving a different voice to each character. I happily recommend this audio cassette version of Rebecca to those who enjoy exciting tales of suspense, psychological dramas, and mysteries.
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96 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A murder mystery like no other., April 17, 2001
This review is from: Rebecca (Mass Market Paperback)
A young, naive woman who is the paid companion of an obnoxious rich woman is taken along to Monte Carlo. While she smarts under the rudeness and gauche behavior of her employer, she meets the dark, handsome widower Max de Winter.
What follows is a love story and a ghost story of a woman haunted by the powerful presence of the former mistress of Manderley. We never learn the name of the heroine as she marries Max, moves into the rigid but elegant life at Manderley and tangles with Mrs. Danvers, Manderley's fearsome housekeeper. What unfolds is not only a mystery but a story of obsessions and evil. The end is a shock.
Du Maurier created an unforgettable atmosphere of decaying beauty, frightening spirits and horror mixed with love and death. If you haven't read this, I am envious. You get to experience it for the first time.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Presence of Rebecca, November 5, 2006
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This review is from: Rebecca (Paperback)
It's all about Rebecca. She appears constantly in the mind of the main character telling the story, whose name you never learn, further burying her in the presence of Rebecca. The protagonist is a young woman who quite suddenly marries a man older than herself who was married once before. Maxim de Winter's previous wife, the last Mrs. de Winter, was Rebecca.

Our young bride goes with Maxim to his great home, Manderly, which she loves, but it can not hide her from Rebecca's overwhelming presence. To her it seems Maxim is always thinking about Rebecca, whom everyone loved, who died in a boating accident just a year before. She feels herself being constantly compared to Rebecca; this is not what Rebecca would have done, Rebecca must have done it like this, Rebecca was taller, Rebecca was a social butterfly, Rebecca was very beautiful, Rebecca Rebecca Rebecca. She is 'nothing like Rebecca.'

Having not been brought up in this type of life, she must get used to the grandness of Manderly. The servants, like one Mrs. Danvers who absolutely adored Rebecca; the people, who she must contact and talk to and who are constantly pressing her to hold the great dress ball of Manderly that Rebecca used to run; and the ocean, which stands as a constant reminder of Rebecca's tragic death, with its little boat-house that brings painful memories to Maxim.

Although people must compare her to Rebecca, the poor girl makes it worse by exercising her very vivid imagination; putting words where none were said, and constantly imagining things that don't happen. She does not fit into this life, and Maxim isn't making it any easier. You feel very, very sad for her, as it seems it's quite impossible for her to be really happy.

The quiet, depressing wave takes a turn when she makes up her mind to hold the dress ball. A cruel joke is played on her, and it seems she's at a worse position than before, but then something happens in the bay. Something is found, something to do with Rebecca, and you don't know what is going to happen to our little protagonist who may have her first chance at happiness.

A very emotional and intriguing story, it goes rather calmly at first, then gives you a grand twist to end in a flourish. As you learn more and more about Rebecca, you start to wonder; about the presumptions the new bride makes about her, and the real character of Rebecca.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Romance for every reader, January 14, 2000
This review is from: Rebecca (Paperback)
I've given this book four, rather than five stars because I haven't read many books which I thought were perfect. Even this one has its flaws (such as a rather pedestrian narrative style). But those flaws are minor in comparison to the truly compelling characters and gripping tale woven by Du Maurier. I only just recently read this for the first time and I was surprised to find that it was a much better read than I thought it would be. I love the Hitchcock movie and was worried that the book wouldn't be as good, but boy was I wrong! The suspense is chilling from the moment the new Mrs. De Winter arrives at Manderley. Du Maurier's greatest achievement is to have created a narrator who is so young and inexperienced that Rebecca (who of couse is never present in the novel) seems more alive than our heroine! In a way, the heroine (who remains unnamed, in what must be one of the master strokes of the novel) becomes more interesting as she, like Mrs. Danvers, becomes more and more obsessed with the dead Rebecca. The slight hint of a lesbian attachment between Rebecca and "Danny" adds spice to the otherwise conventional romance aspect of the novel. In fact, I found this story interesting as a tale of intimate relationships between women - even Maxim, the main male in the book fades into the background as Rebecca beomes more prominent in everyone's memory. I could not put this down and was glad to find that I liked it as much as the movie!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again", April 22, 2006
This review is from: Rebecca (Paperback)
Rebecca is a mystery novel in which nearly every character makes false assumptions that lead to false conclusions. From the catty and gauche widow Mrs. Van Hopper to the suave widower Maxim de Winter, nearly everyone in Rebecca is wrong about something. For the nameless narrator, her incorrect assumptions are founded on Mrs. Van Hopper's gossip and build on each other until they have constructed a person and a past that never existed and a future in which every action and utterance have two meanings-the one that the narrator perceives and the real meaning.

For example, Maxim's sister Beatrice tells the narrator that she is nothing like his first wife, the late Rebecca de Winter, who died in a tragic boating accident. The narrator accepts this statement and remembers it as she learns more about Rebecca. She feels herself to be plain, uninteresting, shy, and unsophisticated. By contrast, and by all accounts that the narrator hears, Rebecca was beautiful, fascinating, charismatic, and witty. Even Maxim's carefully diplomatic estate manager, Frank Crawley, tells the narrator, ". . . I suppose she was the most beautiful creature I ever saw in my life." Not surprisingly, the more she learns, the more the narrator needs to know about Rebecca-a first wife whom she cannot have replaced in the brooding, moody Maxim's affections.

The narrator falsely interprets other people and what they say and do. The intimidating housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, gives her several hints that Rebecca was exacting and demanding in her management of the household and staff. The second Mrs. de Winter is also told how much Mrs. Danvers loved and admired Rebecca. The implication is clear; the narrator's only hope of coming to terms with the formidable housekeeper is to take charge. Instead, she decides that the best way to mollify Mrs. Danvers is to make herself unobtrusive and to let her have full rein over the household's management. Her na?vet? and self-effacing behavior give Mrs. Danvers a reason to despise as well as dislike her.

Many, if not most, readers are probably misled as well. Rebecca's appearance and charms are described by several people in several places, and her name or initials appear on nearly everything she owned. On the other hand, the narrator is never described or named. Even when Mrs. Danvers calls her "Mrs. de Winter" over the house telephone the first time, the narrator responds with a denial of her new identity but without reference to her former one. "I'm afraid you have made a mistake. Mrs. de Winter has been dead for over a year." Surrounded by Rebecca's belongings, Rebecca's servants, and Rebecca's friends and husband, the narrator sinks further into anonymity.

There are few clues to the narrator's looks, other than that she has "lank hair" (compared to Rebecca's "clouds" of black hair) and that she is "plain," according to herself. Yet Rebecca's cousin, Jack Favell, flirts with her and repeatedly hints that she is a fresh, attractive younger wife of the sort that affluent older men like Maxim often choose. The reader should also ask why Maxim does marry someone who apparently is so different from the first wife he adored.

In Rebecca, passion seems as repressed as open communication, but sexuality is not far beneath the surface. The relationship between Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers is full of sexual overtones. While Maxim may be willing to replace Rebecca in his affections and his bed, Mrs. Danvers clearly is not. As a comfort, she clings to Rebecca's old bedroom suite and to her apparent contempt for men. Mrs. Danvers says of Rebecca, "She had all the courage and spirit of a boy, had my Mrs. de Winter. She ought to have been a boy, I often told her that." Even Maxim says, "She [Rebecca] looked like a boy in her sailing kit, a boy with a face like a Botticelli angel."

The narrator also refers to herself as being like a "schoolboy" or "boy." The incident at the costume ball and Mrs. Danvers' ensuing description of Rebecca begin the narrator's transformation into Rebecca, or at least a woman more like Rebecca-confident, assertive, and, later, sexualized. She tells Maxim, "I've grown up, Maxim, in twenty-four hours. I'll never be a child again." With her new knowledge of Rebecca, she makes an offer to Maxim: "I'll be your friend and companion, a sort of boy." It is this offer and admission that finally elicits the truth-a truth that was under all the cascading false assumptions, misinterpretations, and lack of communication.

Rebecca is an outstanding mystery and character study that captures a world on the cusp of irrevocable change. Maxim's marriage to Rebecca seems to have been made in the old tradition; as his grandmother says, "She's got the three things that matter in a wife . . . breeding, brains, and beauty." Their marriage is a contract in which each plays a role. In contrast, Maxim's second marriage is modern; it is based on impulse and emotion, and thrives away from the constraints of society and tradition. When Maxim and the narrator come to Manderley, they are bound by the past-Rebecca's past, as well as a past world in which they are surrounded by servants and constrained by a decorum that requires the suppression of communication and feelings.

The world around them is changing, however. When a ship wrecks off the coast and a crowd gathers to watch the rescue and salvage operation, a tourist points out to the narrator how Manderley, and all it represents, has become an anachronism. "Those are nice-looking woods over there, I suppose they're private . . . My husband says all these big estates will be chopped up in time and bungalows built . . . I wouldn't mind a nice bungalow up here facing the sea."

From the memorable opening, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again," to the well-paced unravelling of every false assumption and conclusion, Rebecca is an engaging, evocative, thoughtful novel that acknowledges the past before moving toward the future. The next time the night is deep and you can imagine both the silence of the woods and the roar of the sea, read Rebecca.

Diane L. Schirf, 22 April 2006.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting tale of love and mystery--with a surprise twist, November 20, 1999
This review is from: Rebecca (Mass Market Paperback)
I picked this book up when I was in high school on a visit to my uncle's...and I couldn't put it down. I was captivated as I followed the uncertain steps of a young girl swept off her feet by a rich older man, then thrust into the overwhelming position of lady of the manor, a position previously held by a beautiful, confident woman that everyone seemed to adore. Everything was not as it first appeared, however, and the new bride had many shocking and horrifying surprises in store for her. "Rebecca" was a gripping tale that fascinated Alfred Hitchcock, and he chose this story to bring to the big screen. But even the Master of Suspense, in my opinion, could not do justice to this epic romance/mystery/thriller as written by Du Maurier. One of the most memorable books I have ever read.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly A Classic, January 10, 2001
By 
B. Morse (Boston, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rebecca (Paperback)
This book was recommended to me several times before I broke down and read it. I am a lover of classic films, yet this is one that I had never seen, for some unknown reason. A good friend suggested that I read the book to truly enjoy the story to its fullest. And boy, was she right.
Although not my usual genre of choice, this is a true classic. The main character, the 'second Mrs. Dewinter' is a simple girl, swept up in a romance with a rich widower while she is on vacation as companion to a pushy, well to do woman. She leaves her employer to marry Max DeWinter, not anticipating all this union entails for her.
She is drawn into the shadow of Rebecca, the first Mrs. DeWinter, and fights to measure up, and to retain her sanity in Max and Rebecca's home, Manderley.
Not helping matters at all is Mrs. Danvers, a maid of sorts, who was utterly devoted to Rebecca, and bitterly resents the appearance of this plain, uneducated, unrefined girl trying desperately to fill the void left in the house when Rebecca died suddenly, under mysterious circumstances.
The second Mrs. DeWinter, never referred to by name, finds herself fighting to find her own place at Manderley, and in Max's heart, as well as seeking the approval of Mrs. Danvers and the other household servants, and Rebecca's friends and relatives, as she slowly comes to the realization that not all was as it seemed with Max and Rebecca, and the grounds of Manderley are the burial place of many secrets, perhaps better left undisturbed.
This is a wonderful story, full of colorful and engaging characters, and one of the best of the more 'modern' classics in 1900's literature.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, January 6, 2014
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This review is from: Rebecca (Kindle Edition)
Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 Rebecca remains one of my favorite black and white films; therefore, it is not surprising that when I saw Daphne Du Maurier's novel from which the film is based offered on Kindle, I did not hesitate to buy it. The book does not disappoint. From its opening line, "Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly again" to its disturbing conclusion, the novel continues to haunt me. And well it should, since Rebecca is a ghost story, one that should capture the imagination of any discerning lover of the gothic romance genre.

Rebecca contains all the elements of great fiction. It evocative setting, seaside Cornwall in southwest England, provides the moody backdrop for a suspenseful plot and unforgettable characters. The unnamed narrator, an insecure young woman newly married to the much older, wealthy Maxim de Winter, narrates the story. Through her hypnotic voice, we learn that their marriage is as cool as de Winter himself, and that it is shadowed by his dead first wife, the charming but wicked Rebecca and by the chilling housekeeper of Manderly, Mrs. Danvers. But no character is more unforgettable than Manderly itself, which is as wild and as lovely as its former mistress. One brilliant image that stays with me is the blood red rhododendrons that guard the entrance to the mansion which startle the narrator "with their crimson faces, massed one upon the other in incredible profusion, showing no leaf, no twig, nothing but the slaughterous red, luscious and fanastic, unlike any rhododendron plant I had ever seen before." With images such as this Du Maurier beautifully creates the dark and dangerous world of Manderly and its occupants.

However unlike another reviewer who speculates that the book should appeal to young readers and writers, I am not so sure that Rebecca will translate well to a young audience. So much of the novel is slow and seductive in its suspense that I wonder whether they would understand its subtleties, and I doubt whether the shy narrator would hold much interest to an audience who might expect a more assertive heroine. I hope I am wrong, because they would miss a timeless story of romance and revenge--Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca.
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36 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Meek Will Inherit the Earth, December 28, 2004
By 
-_Tim_- (The Western Hemisphere) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rebecca (Mass Market Paperback)
Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca is narrated by a timid young lady, barely an adult, who is left alone in the world after the death of her parents. Through fortuitous circumstances she meets Maxim de Winter, a wealthy widower and master of Manderley, a grand country house on England's coast. When this young lady - we never learn her name - enters de Winter's world, she is inevitably compared to Rebecca, de Winter's former wife. These comparisons, and the social demands placed on her in de Winter's world, accentuate her natural anxiety to the point that she begins to consider suicide. At the same time, a maritime accident reveals much about de Winter, Rebecca, and Manderley itself.

This novel explores some popular themes, like the troubles of fabulously wealthy people. But popularity does not in this case imply mediocrity. Du Maurier has created some wonderful characters, including the nameless protagonist, who is surely the heroine of shy people everywhere. She also offers some pretty good plot surprises. Finally, and very importantly for me, she offers some nice scenes of English domesticity (shaking off the water after a walk in the rain, reading the papers in front of the fire, having tea in the library, and so on). Rebecca might be summer reading, but it is good summer reading.
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Rebecca
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (Audio CD - September 15, 2008)
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