It was written by Daphne du Maurier and I’ve read it twice. The feeling that stayed with me was ‘haunting’. The three major characters, the second Mrs. de Winter, Maxim de Winter, and Mrs. Danvers cannot get over the death of the first wife, Rebecca. She, with all her beauty, charisma, and intensity resides in every corner of Manderley, the residence.
Daphne du Maurier is a gifted writer, for I deem it extremely difficult to pen down such a strong gothic framework and hold up a novel. Mrs. Danvers is the housekeeper and one of the strongest female villains of all time. She doesn’t let the young, naïve second Mrs. de Winter forget Rebecca, what she did, what she liked, how she ran Manderley. Her devotion towards Rebecca, who she adored, is frightening. The second Mrs. de Winter feels tormented by her memory, by her presence, and her own lack of grace pointed to her by all. Here’s a dialogue
2nd Mrs. de Winter: Why do you hate me? What have I done to you that you should ever hate me so?
Mrs. Danvers: You tried to take her place. You let him marry you. I’ve seen his face, his eyes. They’re the same as those first weeks after she died. I used to listen to him, walking up and down, up and down, all night long, night after night, thinking of her. Suffering torture because he lost her.
2nd Mrs. de Winter: I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know.
Mrs. Danvers: You thought you could be Mrs. de Winter, live in her house, walk in her steps, take the things that were hers. But she’s too strong for you. You can’t fight her. No one ever got the better of her. Never. Never. She was beaten in the end, but it wasn’t a man. It wasn’t a woman. It was the sea.
Yet the second Mrs. de Winter tries her best, for her husband’s sake, for Manderley’s sake. The plot and the vivid description of the settings make this a brilliant read. I’d recommend it for the novice reader, for it requires one to just go with the steady cadence of the story and how all of Rebecca is slowly laid bare.
Quote (the opening paragraph, pure brilliance): Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done. But as I advanced, … that had once been our drive. And finally, there was Manderley, Manderley, secretive and silent. Time could not mar the perfect symmetry of those walls. Moonlight can play odd tricks upon the fancy, and suddenly it seemed to me that light came from the windows. And then a cloud came upon the moon and hovered an instant like a dark hand before a face. The illusion went with it. I looked upon a desolate shell, with no whisper of a past about its staring walls. We can never go back to Manderley again.