I picked Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier to read in October because I thought it would be a good spooky read. While there wasn’t anything supernatural in the novel, there was a great mystery and fantastic gothic elements. Often compared to Jane Eyre, this book is also a classic. Our heroine and narrator is never named. She tells the whole story from a first-person point of view, and all of the other characters simply refer to her as Mrs. de Winter. We begin with a whirlwind romance in Monte Carlo, where she meets wealthy widower Maxim de Winter, they quickly fall in love and get married. She is then whisked off to his mysterious estate, Manderley. It is then we begin to learn bit by bit about the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, and the mystery unfolds itself.
The narration in the book is rich with detail and deeply personal. You know in each and every moment what the narrator thinks and how she feels. Often she will describe her imagining; thinking of the grandmother as a young woman, or the dog playing with fantasy children. Especially during tense moments, you can feel your stomach clench and knuckles whiten right along with hers. Some of the detail, however, drags in the middle. Hearing about every tiny aspect of settling into a new home makes that part of the book rather slow and tedious. Luckily, a major plot twist comes along to pick up the pace. The only part of the book that wasn’t beautifully fleshed out was the ending, which I felt was very abrupt. That may have been meant to add to the tense mysterious feeling, but, as a reader, I was somewhat unsatisfied. Perhaps there is a sequel I don’t know about.
One of the strongest aspects of the book, I felt, was the characters. Each one had a complex personality and a variety of motives, making them intriguing. You never quite knew what Mr. de Winter, the unsettling housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, or any of the characters would do next. So much of the book felt distant from me in suburban America; it was the profound humanness of the characters that helped to make the story real.
As a self-professed scaredy-cat, this book struck just the right spooky, mysterious note for an October read. If you liked Jane Eyre, this is definitely a book you should consider reading, but all fans of gothic literature or great storytelling will enjoy it.