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Classics Book Club–Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

classics-bookclub

I have a distinct memory of the first time I read Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca–I was lying on a float in the middle of my aunt’s pool, the thick paperback novel shading my face from the sun and the realization that I was in the VERY hot and humid South, not a beautiful-but-foreboding English estate.  (Of course, this was Before Children when I actually took reading material to the pool with the expectation that I would actually read it, not just get it wet.)  Rebecca made quite an impression on me then.  Making an impression is what this book does.  Honestly, I had forgotten most of the details.  Due to the fact that we have a lot going on here at the House of Hope right now, I have not made as much progress on the novel this time as I had hoped.  I am just about half way through it this second time.  However, I wanted to share a few of my observations and thoughts about it so far for August’s Classics Bookclub over at 5 Minutes for Books, thus making this another one of my “Reflections in Progress” posts, as well.  I love it when all this bloggy stuff coincides.  🙂

Lisa has posted all kinds of good discussion questions in anticipation of this month’s Classics Bookclub, but I’m not even going to attempt to answer most of them.  Instead, I’m going to spring board off a couple of them because they really feed into what has been going through my mind as I’ve read the novel this time around.   Lisa asks the following: 

Why do you think the heroine remains nameless? (did you notice she was never referred to by name?) Don’t you find it interesting that the novel is titled “Rebecca” yet our narrator is nameless? Why the contrast, do you think? Do you see her anonymity as indicative of some deeper meaning?

Did you like Maxim at first? Did you trust him? Why do you think the narrator was so unsure of his affection? Did you share her doubt? What gave her confidence in his love–or did she remain insecure? Did you alter your opinion of either Maxim or the narrator in the course of the novel? What made you change your mind?

I’ve been thinking mostly about the narrator during the first half of the novel.  The narrator reminds me of the insecurity inherent in all relationships.  I think the narrator really reminds me of myself.  However, sometimes when she takes her little flights of fancy, her imagination running at breakneck speed ahead of what is actually occuring in the situation, I want to yell to her, “STOP!  You have no idea what that person is actually thinking!”  Perhaps DuMaurier meant for this to show her naivete, her innocence.  I don’t know.  I really don’t remember even noticing it the first time I read Rebecca, so maybe it shows that I’ve matured a little bit as well. 

The issue of the narrator being unnamed is another thing I noticed more this time. Actually, it is not that she is unnamed, but rather that she is not given the honor of her married title, that bothers me.  I know that this is the point–that the first Mrs. deWinter would never be replaced at Manderley.  However, early on, when the narrator answers the house phone and says in response Mrs. Danvers calling her by her married title, ” ‘I’m afraid you have made a mistake. [. . .]Mrs. deWinter has been dead for over a year'”, I wanted to shake her.  Of course, this just adds to the atmosphere, and atmosphere is what this novel postively drips with. 

I’ve enjoyed this read immensely thus far.  It has been a great break from all of the nonfiction I’ve been reading lately.  I’ll try to follow up this post with more thoughts when I actually finish the novel.  Until then, hop over to 5 Minutes for Books to read what others think about this masterpiece of gothic romance.

7 Responses

  1. The narrator’s insecurity and flights of fancy made a stronger impression on me this reading as well…here’s hoping that means I’ve matured some as well! Thanks for joining us and I look forward to reading the rest of your thoughts!

  2. That scene made me want to shake our heroine, too! I kept reminding myself that she was so young (although we never find out exactly how young), and really not ready for marriage or to manage such an estate as Manderley.

    As Lisa said…looking forward to more of your thoughts.

  3. Yes–I felt like shaking her a LOT.

    And LOL about reading at the pool. I still get plenty of reading time in — on the back deck, curled up in my chair — but the pool is not one of those places anymore.

  4. YES!

    #1 – I am not the only person who forgets what they read! ;D

    #2 – I also wanted to tell the narrator to STOP her imaginations.

    And reading in the pool for pleasure sounds like a really, really, really relaxing thing to do! =) (Definitely does not involved children.)

  5. Interesting. I’ll have to read this one.

  6. Yes, I agree that the insecurity and flights of fancy certainly made a huge impression on me.
    I too wanted to shake her to her core at times.

    I was camping this week and just posted my review

  7. […] thought Rebecca was going to go the way of Les Miserables, but I did manage to finish reading it.  I intended to […]

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