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Rebecca Paperback – September 5, 2006
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The Amazon Book Review
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From the Back Cover
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.
This special edition of Rebecca includes excerpts from Daphne du Maurier's The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories, an essay on the real Manderley, du Maurier's original epilogue to the book, and more.
About the Author
Daphne du Maurier (1907–1989) has been called one of the great shapers of popular culture and the modern imagination. Among her more famous works are The Scapegoat, Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, and the short story "The Birds," all of which were subsequently made into films—the latter three directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
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Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again". This version skips the first chapter entirely and starts around chapter 3. It is an insult to a wonderful book. Don't make a mistake and get it. You will miss the real depth of the book.
Not only is the book edited but there are so many typos and errors.
This is terrible, do not buy.
Edit: after buying the $9.99 version of Rebecca, I now know this version is barely similar to the 'real' story. The famous opening line 'I dreamt again of Manderley.....’ doesn't even appear and the book seems to be a very poorly condensed edit or...something....?? I'm asking for a refund. The publisher should be ashamed!
All this aside, the book isn't for everyone. If you're not already a fan, this checklist may help you decide whether or not to add Rebecca to your own secret treat shelf:
1. Do you like gothic fiction?
Although it was first published in 1938, Rebecca ages exquisitely and i's not hard for a modern reader to fall deeply in love with it. The style and turns of phrase are no barrier--it's the genre itself that will either draw you in or leave you cold. I loved Jane Eyre as a child, and this love abetted my love of Rebecca, which is famously derivative of Jane Eyre's general plot: woman falls in love with a man haunted in mysterious ways by his former wife. If the idea of women wandering windswept grounds of great houses, plagued by mysterious barriers to love, sometimes in the form of the ghost (literal or figurative) of another woman sounds cozy to you, if you loved Catherine and Heathcliff or Darcy and Elizabeth, and you fancy dark psychological acrobatics, give Rebecca a shot.
2. Does a warm bath, a hot drink, and a new sweater sound good to you right now?
Rebecca is a fall read, hands down. It's rainy, it's morose, it's the dominating presence of a grand old mansion in a remote location.
3. Have you seen the movie Rebecca (1940), did you like it, do you like old movies at all?
The movie does not follow the plot exactly, but having loved the movie for a long time and now having read the book, the tone of the movie feels authentic and true to the novel. Once every few years, I go on an autumn binge and watch The Uninvited (1944), Vertigo (1958), Rebecca, and to end on a lighter note, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947).
4. Are you a feminist?
Old fashioned gender roles in Rebecca's setting will definitely irk some readers. As a feminist, I was less annoyed than interested. The mirroring of the protagonist (shy, inexperienced, subservient) and the dead Rebecca (domineering, brave, selfish, accomplished) added a great sociological layer to the experience of reading. Sally Beauman's excellent Afterword offers a wonderful explanation of the gendered forces at work in Rebecca, and also addresses several misinterpretations of the novel at the time of its publication.
If you've answered yes to any of the questions above, I absolutely recommend that you read the first 30 pages at least. Get past the description of Manderly in the dream, and begin to read about when the protagonist first meets widower Maxim de Winter, and if you're liking it by then, you'll love the rest.