Memories of Manderley...,
This review is from: Rebecca (Paperback)
"Rebecca" had several elements that I loved: a large Gothic-style manor, ghosts, mystery and suspense. In the book, the narrator (in which interestly her first name is never revealed) is a young English lady of twenty-one, who is working as a "companion" to a middle-aged American gossip-loving socialite. The young lady and her employer are staying at a hotel in Monte Carlo, where the young lady is introduced to Maxim de Winter, the owner of a large English manor house called Manderley who has lost his wife in a tragic drowning one year prior. Mr. de Winter is a strange, serious man which everyone attributes to the loss of his wife, Rebecca.
The narrator and Mr. de Winter have an odd relationship over the course of the couple of weeks in Monte Carlo and when the narrator is told she is to go to New York, Mr. de Winter proposes marriage. The narrator, longing for something more in life, agrees to marry him. She is deeply in love with him, although he often remains distant and mysterious. She expects that life at Manderley will be quite different from what she actually finds once she arrives there.
Although the first Mrs. de Winter is no longer living, there are traces of her all throughout the mansion. The new Mrs. de Winter is told how wonderful Rebecca was and is very insecure in herself in that she feels she can't live up to Rebecca's reputation. Rebecca's maid, the eerie Mrs. Danvers, immediately dislikes the new Mrs. de Winter. As days go by at Manderley, the new Mrs. de Winter begins to have serious doubts that her marriage will be successful and that the house she is living in is still under Rebecca's influence. Maxim becomes more and more distant and odd, and the narrator becomes more uneasy and afraid, as is understandable as the mystery of what happened to Rebecca is unraveled.
I really enjoyed the author's writing style - vivid descriptions with each scene set up nicely. The author did a remarkable job of creating a suspenseful atmosphere. Although I saw some of the mysteries of Rebecca's fate coming well ahead of time, there were still some new surprises waiting for this reader. I would liken reading the book to walking through a large, historic manor house like Manderley, with each turn and hallway revealing another twist in the story and finding surprises all along the way. I've seen other reviews that have said they found the book slow and dull, but I didn't want to put it down until every mystery was solved.
My only letdown of the novel was that even while Rebecca was not a nice person, I found it very weak for the main character to stand by Maxim de Winter so faithfully after what he had done.
After the story ended, I found it helpful to reread the first couple of chapters to be happily fulfilled with the ending.