“I could not believe that I had said the name at last. I waited, wondering what would happen. I had said the name. I had said the word Rebecca aloud. It was a tremendous relief. It was as though I had taken a purge and rid myself of an intolerable pain. Rebecca. I had said it aloud.”
Rebecca has been on my book bucket list for years. I have heard it referenced countless times and decided to find out what it was all about. In case you’re unfamiliar with the story, it is about a young woman who works as an aide/ companion for an older, wealthy woman. On one of their vacations, the young woman meets a middle-aged widower named Maxim and he ends up proposing. It all seems a bit magical, even though he is rumored to have lost his wife less than a year before in a tragic accident. But when the newlyweds return to Manderley, Maxim’s estate, the story takes on an eerie tone as the new bride feels haunted by Maxim’s dead wife.
This novel was originally published in 1938 and was an instant hit. The story certainly kept me entertained. It never seemed to drag or wander off into boring territory. This novel was very Bronte-esque. The large, mostly empty house and the dead wife’s name still ringing throughout the halls were enough to create a haunting effect. If you enjoyed Jane Eyre, then you will most likely enjoy this book too.
I found Rebecca to be one of the most interesting styles of writing I have ever read. Not only do we never learn the name of the main character, the narrator, but we constantly hear Maxim’s dead wife’s name, Rebecca, instead. This created such tension in the story that it was almost palpable. There was a twist in the story that I didn’t see coming, and then another toward the end. I am a fan of twists and books that can surprise me, so that was a definite plus. The housemaid at Manderley, Mrs. Danvers, was beautifully written. I could picture her “white skull’s face” in my head and hear her voice. I still get shivers down my spine when I think of her. Haunting, indeed.
My only issue with this book was the ending. Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that it seemed a little odd. Although I understand exactly what happened and why, I guess I just wanted something different for the ending and the characters. The version that I read had the original epilogue at the end, but I can see why it’s not included anymore. It really wasn’t helpful and had a rather depressing feel to it. It felt unnecessary, and I’m glad it’s not part of the final version of the book.
All in all, I am very glad that I read Rebecca and I’m thrilled that I can check it off my book bucket list. Do you enjoy gothic, romantic mysteries set in large, haunting houses? Have you read Rebecca? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.