This was the very last book I was planning to read for the Semi-Charmed Winter Books Challenge that I signed up for way back in November. The challenge was to read a book with a character who had the same name as you. I was sure I had a copy of Rebecca somewhere at my mother’s home in Leeds and I’d planned to pick it up when I visited over Christmas. I couldn’t find it.
I could find a large, leather bound, Readers’ Digest, hardback book containing “Four Cornish Novels” which included Rebecca. Also, in an enormous coincidence, my sister received a new paperback copy of Rebecca as a Christmas gift, but I wasn’t cheeky enough to ask to borrow it – I had no idea when I’d get it back to her. Fortunately, it’s not exactly a new novel, and I found someone selling a very cheap paperback Penguin on Amazon, so ordered it to be delivered to Falkirk in time for me getting back there.
I always assumed that Rebecca would be a dry, dusty, plodding kind of a novel. One of those novels with obvious and not especially shocking twists around 80% in. Novels that wouldn’t upset your grandmother who has weak nerves.
I was wrong.
Certainly, the writing style is of its time. There’s a lot of floral description and a lot of heavy overtones about class. It’s set in a beautiful old mansion (Manderley) and many, many words and used in the description of it, its grounds, it’s staff and so on. As someone pointed out to me, this novel is a dream come true for any maker of daytime drama.
However, it is also a novel full of suspense, the dread builds steadily and the twists caught me totally by surprise. The characters are wonderfully written and totally believable, although I found the second Mrs de Winter frustratingly useless in the first half of the novel, as time goes on she starts to overcome her shyness and to develop more agency.
The ending, which I won’t spoil, is perfect. I’d thought I’d already read all the twists and that things were wrapping up, in an almost happily-ever-after way. I had forgotten the foreshadowing at the beginning of the story. The result was quite chilling.