Saturday, 25 August 2012

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier

Date of Reading: 07/11/2007
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Publisher: Avon Books
Place: New York
Year: 1971

          Anyone who likes Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre' will certainly love 'Rebecca' too. Even the story pattern is almost same: a poor, innocent, not-that-pretty girl falls in love with a rich, once married, unlucky guy with a shameful past; the truth comes out and the man survives with the support of the girl.
        Story is often described as a gothic romance; well, there is nothing frightening about it, but the suspense is awesome. I would have liked to hear our heroine's name though, its really strange reading it like that (something like reading a letter without knowing the sender).
         It seems two people living together need not have to use their names at all. May be the whole idea of a Mrs. de Winter cannot be contained by a single name; or does it imply that her existence is intermittently connected with her husband with no life of her own? Indeed, isn't it our name that defines us somehow? (the hero's name - Maxim - is used quite often too).
        Any way, the feature adds much to its charm. This work is superb for sure.
         The female protagonist was living as a maid of Mrs. Van Hopper at Monte Carlo, France when she meets with Maximilian de Winter, the owner of the most reputed house, Manderley. His wife, the most beautiful Rebecca, is drowned and he is therefore here to shed off the grief. She falls in love and in spite of their huge age difference, they marry.
        With this husband she barely knows the new bride arrives at Manderley, only to find that everything in there chimes the praises of the late Mrs. de Winter and expects her to be like her. Alas! our girl is not from gentry class and so everything she tries to do ends in disaster. Mrs. Danvers, the house keeper who lives in the memory of Rebecca, hates her especially. Only Frank Crawley, the estate agent and Beatrice, Maxim's sister give a favourable response.
         Then one day the drowned boat of Rebecca with her supposed to be found body is discovered. Maxim confesses to his wife at last that he has killed Rebecca. The true cunning Rebecca was never known to the world, what they admired was her outward beauty and charm. After their marriage she has made a bargain with Maxim, she would make Manderley the most beautiful place but in return she must be allowed to continue with her liaisons with other men. Maxim feared the shame of a divorce and agreed.
         She has always laughed at the men she had slept with and never loved anyone. When she reveals that she is with the child of another, Maxim can't take any more. She shoots her dead, and drowns the boat secretly. But now the boat is found and Jack Favell, her cousin and former lover is the first to raise the alarm. A re-investigation is announced and Rebecca is found to have an appointment with one Dr. Baker on the day of her death. She is found to have cancer and accordingly her death is declared as a suicide.

Daphne du Maurier
        Maxim is saved but Mrs. Danvers is too wise, she burns down the whole Manderley. There ends the story.
--- A sequel is also there titled 'Mrs. de Winter' by Susan Hill.

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