If you’re a fan of gothic literature than you’ve probably heard of this classic and Daphne Du Maurier in general. She has written My Cousin Rachel, The Birds, Jamaica Inn, and The Scapegoat, and many more. Her work was a big inspiration for Hitchcock’s movies. But before I get too carried away, let’s take a look at my audiobook review of Rebecca By Daphne Du Maurier.
Book Summary of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
“Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” is the famous opening line of this classic gothic novel.
Set in the 1930’s the book begins in Monte Carlo where the unnamed narrator is working as a companion to an older American woman who is on holiday. The girl narrator is in her early 20’s and dislikes her attention seeking employer who is staying in a high class hotel specifically to meet important or famous people.
She soon meets Maxim de Winter a wealthy widower of 42. While he dislikes her employer just as much as she does, he is kind to her when no one else is because of her lowly station.
When the girls employer takes sick and is given a nurse to help her. With the new found time to herself in the morning, she spends driving with Maxim running errands or just enjoying each others company.
This goes on for a few weeks, while her employer is unwell.
The girl quickly falls in love with Maxim due to this time together, but has no illusions about him returning her feelings.
When her employer feels better, she tells her that they will be leaving the next day to meet her daughter. The plan is for them to go to New York together. The girl is very upset by this as she doesn’t want to leave Maxim. What’s worse is that Maxim is out of town and isn’t to be expected until late.
The next morning, her employer is bored of waiting since everything is ready to go. She tells the young girl to go down and arrange for an earlier train. On an impulse she goes to Maxims room to tell him she’s leaving. She’s dreading it, but wants to at least say goodbye. He is surprised by the change of plans but is unhurried. The conversation leads to him nonchalantly asking her to marry him.
Soon after they get married and have a honeymoon in Italy. Maxim insists that they go home after a few weeks so that he can show her Manderley, his beautiful and famous country estate.
As the new Mrs. de Winter sees her home for the first time she is excited. however she soon becomes aware upon their coming that the memory of the first Mrs. de Winter, a talented, beautiful, and decisive woman, haunts both the beautiful Manderly estate and her new husband.
Can they overcome the past to be happy in the present?
My audiobook review of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
At the very start of the book you have an inkling that something went terribly wrong. You are hearing everything from the perspective of a young woman who is looking back and wishing she knew then what she knows now. She and her husband are going about their daily routine, while trying their best not to remember anything about England it seems.
The young woman who is never named other than her married name of Mrs. De Winter. I truly appreciated the honesty this book has about what goes on in young, insecure girls heads. She often pictures the way things will go before they happen. Or makes up conversations between others based on her fears or hopes.
A good example is when she goes to tell Maxim that she and her employer are leaving that same day. She imagines that he will wish her a good trip. That he may say something nice about spending time with her. That she’ll pretend to be happy about the trip, even using language that she never uses to show her excitement. While she is utterly miserable at the thought of leaving him.
In actuality, he asks her if she wants to go. And, hearing that she doesn’t, asks her if she wants to marry him. It’s not done in a romantic fashion, but it’s more than she could have ever hoped for.
She is young..
And prone to being intimidated by older people. She was not born into high society. So, she feels uncomfortable giving orders to servants. She doesn’t necessarily like the way things are run in the house, but feels far too afraid of Mrs. Danvers to change anything. She is also afraid that her tastes wouldn’t be up to Rebecca’s standards. The standards that she feels everyone expect from her.
I think that the story is very good at showing how much can go arye in a relationship if you don’t communicate. I will not go into too much detail for the sake of spoilers. But I feel that if both of the main characters had been honest about their feelings… It would have been a very different book. Though maybe not the classic gothic novel it is now.
I personally loved the reader, Anna Massey, she did a fantastic job giving all the characters a different voice. I found her voice, very soothing and listenable. It was off putting at first, having such an older voice when it’s from a younger woman’s perspective. However, it helped remind me that she was in fact an older woman. She was recounting the events that put her and her husband in the life that they have now. When doing some light research for this review I was not entirely surprised to find that she was a British actress. She is best known for her role of Babs Milligan in Hitchcock’s film, Frenzy.
I was able to find out that she played Mrs. Danvers in a TV miniseries of Rebecca. Which honestly makes all the sense in the world, since her voice as Mrs. Danvers in this book sent chills down my spine.
Where to get Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The audiobook I read was a book track version. which means there was music and sound affects in the background. So, if their in a crowded cafe, then you’ll hear cafe sound in the background. It feels as if you were sitting with them. Here’s the link to the one I read https://www.audible.com/pd/Rebecca-Booktrack-Edition-Audiobook
If you’re interested in the physical book you have a couple options. You can try this one on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Rebecca-Daphne-Du-Maurier/dp/0380730405
Since this book is out of copyright, you can read it for free by going here: https://books-library.net/files/books-library.online-12230029Vw5I9.pdf
Or you can check your local library, I’m sure they have a copy of this classic.
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