It had been a while since I’d read a thrilling novel, and one day, the book club in office suggested we all read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. When the meeting was dismissed, I returned to my desk and placed an order for the book. Like never before, Flipkart took almost three weeks to deliver the novel. I was only hoping not to lose interest in the book that was also being discussed widely. As soon as the book arrived, I tore open the packaging and read two pages. And the first line “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” will always be one of the best opening lines of a novel I’ve ever read.
I will not write that the novel displays an exceptional vocabulary, but the story is what gripped me all along. Who doesn’t love a story that’s unpredictable till the last line? In fact, I had to read the last paragraph three times to figure out what exactly happened. I slept over it and when I woke up, I couldn’t stop praising the author for giving us such a beautiful story to read. Instead of writing paragraphs about Rebecca, I thought it’ll be better to just listed down what I loved most about the book.
Manderley: Within the first 10 paragraphs of the book, Du Maurier describes Manderley, and how.
“There was Manderley, our Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, the grey stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and the terrace. Time could not wreck the perfect symmetry of those walls, nor the site itself, a jewel in the hollow of a hand. The terrace sloped to the lawns, and the lawns stretched to the sea, and turning I could see the sheet of silver placid under the moon, like a lake undisturbed by wind or storm. No waves would come to ruffle this dream water, and no bulk of cloud, wind-driven from the west, obscure the clarity of this pale sky.”
Aren’t you already in love with Manderley?
Sneak-peek into a Woman’s Mind: As a woman, I repeatedly hear guys describe us as a bunch of complicated species. They also say we think and over-think. No one, not even us, can figure out what’s going on in our little minds. Du Maurier takes advantage of this and crafts a character whose mind is nothing less than a spider’s web. I loved the way we strolled with the protagonist as she kept revealing her thoughts, her complex thoughts.
The protagonist: A simple girl. The protagonist is not the hero. In fact, the book doesn’t even have a hero. I fell in love with the second Mrs De Winter. She was not just innocent, but had a mind of a child. She analysed everything she encountered. She spoke little. Very little. She opened her mouth only when a question was directed towards her. She was patient, and never considered herself among the ones who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Towards the end, I realised I love books that are written in first person.
Bridging Past with Present: Even before the second Mrs De Winter discovered the truth, she kept moving back and forth in time. The past was playing such an important role that she based all her assumptions only on the past. The future was something she wasn’t really bothered about. Another thing I loved about the protagonist.
Keeping Rebecca Alive: Oh Rebecca! Even though she was not physically present during any conversations in the book, Rebecca was still there. She was in Manderley, she was at Maxim’s gran’s place, she was in the car, she was in the book Maxim handed over to the second Mrs De Winter, she was just everywhere. Du Maurier kept her alive so that we could fall in love with the second Mrs De Winter. That’s what I’d like to believe.
The Love Story: Such an adorable love story! After I was done reading, I suggested it to a guy friend who also loves reading. When he asked me what’s it about, I couldn’t help saying that it’s an adorable love story. Well, guys prefer not be cool about lovy-dovy stuff, so I had to describe the book as a gripping thriller, which it is.
Open Ending: To some, it’s quite irritating when the author does not end the book aptly. But I loved it! Daphne Du Maurier tells us one hell of a story and then says, “I’ve given a decent ending. I’m sorry you’ve had to read the last page over and over again to get clarity on what exactly happened, but sorry, you need to start playing the role of a detective now.” She obviously didn’t say this, but I’m going to assume she said it. And isn’t it fun to play detective?