What would you do if you fell in love with someone—someone with a past shrouded in the ominous blackness of mystery, a past of haunted hell? What would you do if everywhere you roamed, everything you touched, everyone you knew were marked with the memory of someone so vivacious, beautiful, and vivid, it would be as if the ravenous bay waters never swallowed them up, the fishes devouring their bloated, rotting body?
These are questions our young, interestingly nameless, narrator must face as she returns to the famed estate of Manderley as the second Mrs. de Winter. She is “nothing like Rebecca,” as so many people note: this meek, naïve twenty-one year old with a wild imagination riddled with thoughts of what people would think of her, but most importantly—Rebecca. Even in death, Rebecca steals the spotlight.
Rebecca always comes back.
I thought it to be a riveting and suspenseful psychological thriller with the idea of Misconception being at the heart of it. Du Maurier’s words captivate and cast their spell on you from its opening phrase, “I dreamt I went to Manderley again…” until the final page. And it keeps you thinking. Unlike most stories of today (there are some exceptions,) you are not fed the answers like a little toddler squealing and battering their fists for spoonfuls of food; you are expected to read between the lines, the conventions of 1938 Cornwall, England.
The characters themselves breathe with life, from the narrator herself to the sinister Mrs. Danvers, with hands as cold as death and a face like a skull, to the brooding Maxim de Winter to the rather despicable pig of a man, Jack Favell.
I recommend this classic to anybody. I urge you to walk up the large gravel drive, the small stones crunching beneath your feet. I urge you to smell the bluebells and the scarlet, giant rhododendrons that perfume the air. Maybe you’ll wander down to the Happy Valley through the winding and dark woods, where there are crowds of azaleas and rhododendrons of pink, gold, and snow white, that pepper the ground and fill the air with their sweet scent. Or perhaps you’ll go down to the bay and hear the waves crash against the rocks that are sharp as nails, the sea gulls crying, swooping over the glass surface as if to mourn something.
Welcome to Manderley.
4 out of 4 inkblots.