This was a re-read for me. From the evidence of the cover stickers (BBC Big Read, win a week’s holiday in Du Maurier Country) I must have bought it in 2003.
Rebecca is a masterpiece and has had so much written about it that I’m going to restrict myself to 150 words, a short excerpt, and a recommendation to get yourself a copy.
There are books I enjoy thoroughly without even remotely engaging with the characters on an emotional level. Rebecca isn’t one of those books.
Mrs de Winter was written 80 years ago, is unlike me in age, gender, class and temperament, and yet inspires genuine sympathy and genuine irritation in equal measures. I defy anyone to avoid shouting, ‘just bloody talk to him!’ at several points in the book.
And the writing is brilliant. Take this paragraph which tells you as much as you ever need to know about the former Mrs de Winter.
‘I read the dedication. “Max – from Rebecca. 17 May”, written in a curious slanting hand. A little blob of ink marred the white page opposite, as though the writer, in impatience, had shaken her pen to make the ink flow freely. And then as it bubbled through the nib, it came a little thick, so that the name Rebecca stood out black and strong, the tall and sloping R dwarfing the other letters.’
Finally, picking on just one component, the fancy-dress party is a masterclass in suspense: The build-up, the growth of Mrs de Winter’s stunted self-confidence, the devastating climax, and then the horror of simply having to carry on as though nothing has happened. Brilliant.
Final destination: A keeper.