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The Other Rebecca Hardcover – March 15, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Freely lends humor, insight and a wry postfeminist twist to Daphne du Maurier's melodrama of love, obsession and jealousy in this cleverly evocative, modern-day riff on the 1938 classic. The wealthy Maxim de Winter has become Max Midwinter, a minor poet and independent publisher dwarfed by the greater success of his wife, Rebecca, and by her posthumously published revenge novel, The Marriage Hearse, an indictment of Max and his calculating relatives who, she claims, drove her to suicide. In Rebecca's narrative, he's been transformed in the eyes of readers everywhere from breezy playboy to boozing, criminally misogynist monster, and his personal life has been under public scrutiny ever since. The second Mrs. Midwinter, a literary aspirant with one slim volume of short fiction to her credit, has long been a fan of Rebecca's poetry, which she can quote endlessly, but she does not recognize the portrait in The Marriage Hearse until she's already fallen for Max and has entered into the life Rebecca described with such accurate vitriol. In the house (changed from Manderley to Beckfield), she writes in Rebecca's study, sleeps in her bed and raises her children, all the time hearing her warnings from beyond the grave. Only slightly more assertive than her du Maurier model by virtue of her 1960s coming-of-age, she is manipulated by Rebecca's agents, among them Danny (Danvers), who is no longer just the housekeeper but Rebecca's self-appointed literary executor as well; and by Aunt Bea, whose motives are just one of the many mysteries that gradually unfold. Even those unfamiliar with the original will enjoy Freely's (Mother's Helper) sharply drawn, socially updated and suspenseful version of the male-female battle. (Feb.) FYI: The Other Rebecca was published by Bloomsbury in England in 1996.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In the first U.S. publication of a novel released in Britain in 1996, Freely gleefully traps her ingenuous heroine (a writer) in a mysterious romance that recalls Daphne Du Maurier's classic story, as reflected in the title. Freely thrusts her protagonist into a whirlwind romance with the mysterious and successful Max Midwinter, previously married to famous poet Rebecca, author of "The Marriage Hearse," who died under mysterious circumstances. The innocent storyteller commits at least as many gaffes, though different and updated, as Du Marier's heroine, and the climax to the tale is similar: Max is under suspicion for the murder of his former wife, whose body was never found. This beautifully structured and entertaining read forfeits no originality, patterned though it is after its classic namesake. Freely's work will be enjoyed in all libraries but especially in academic ones, where its witty literary allusions might all be appreciated.
-Margaret A. Smith, Grace A. Dow Memorial Lib., Midland, MI
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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And I enjoyed the location from the beginning of the original "Rebecca" (French Riviera).
That's why I was rather disappointed that Maureen Freely changed it to Mallorca (not my cup of tea) and Oxford (instead of Cornwall).
After 100 pages I stopped. I cannot recommend it.
To me it's obvious that the author wanted to cash in on DuMaurier's huge success with "Rebecca" without really creating the atmosphere that Sally Beauman and Susan Hill were able to re-create :(.
Not a keeper (I'm glad I ordered it from the public library).
The Other Rebecca is a modernized version of Daphne du Maurier's classic. It is also a satire. I had no idea what I'd make out of this novel when I cracked it open. Another horrid sequel, I thought. Well, color me surprised when I found myself enjoying this book. The narrative is quite well written, the characters are fleshed out, and the language is so ridiculous in its overuse of dry wit and irony that you cannot possibly take it seriously. Yet it is quite a successful feat. Maureen Freely writes with fabulous insight and dark humor, adding a touch of gothic atmosphere for good measure. Feminism is rampant here. The aforementioned theme served as an undertone in Rebecca, and Freely cranks it up several notches in her remake. There are some twists and turns and the ending is quite impressive (but not altogether surprising). All in all, The Other Rebecca should be read if you're not a Rebecca purist and can appreciate a satirical do-over of the beloved classic. Look for it in your library or at a used bookseller, for I doubt that you'll find a copy of this out-of-print book elsewhere.
The American narrator of "The Other Rebecca" has just finished her first book of stories and is having difficulty beginning a novel when she meets and falls for Max Midwinter, dashing British poet and brooding widower of the sharp and talented Rebecca, whose posthumous autobiographical novel viciously skewered her in-laws and husband.
The Midwinter family latches onto Max's new wife, a timid thing easily swayed and subsumed by the capable and meddlesome Aunt Bea, the fanatical Danny who worships Rebecca's memory and the two mistrustful children. A new biography linking Max to Rebecca's death plunges him into depression and alcohol, alienating him from his new wife whose ineffectual attempts to help backfire with unerring devastation. Freely's narrative echoes DuMaurier's with a modern day wryness, wit and black-humored feminism.