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Rebecca Paperback – Special Edition, September 5, 2006
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From the Back Cover
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again."
With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten—a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife—the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.
This special edition of Rebecca includes excerpts from Daphne du Maurier's The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories, an essay on the real Manderley, du Maurier's original epilogue to the book, and more.
- Publisher : William Morrow Paperbacks (September 5, 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0380730405
- ISBN-13 : 978-0380730407
- Reading age : 13 years and up
- Lexile measure : 880L
- Item Weight : 10.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.94 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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(1) It takes away a lot of the suspense because you will know a few things about what happens in the end. Big shocks are watered down in what is supposed to be a suspenseful book.
(2) It takes a lot longer to get into the book. I started to read and put down a few times, and it took a few months to get passed the first two chapters because it was all descriptions of a place I didn't care about (yet).
(3) The book ends rather abruptly and it needs an epilogue. Myself, I went back to re-read the first two chapters for a sense of finality -- and then they meant something to me as a reader because I did care.
(4) Because it needs an epilogue, the publisher of the paperback provides an old, draft version of one in the back. Not realizing that this was never part of the book, I read it with confusion. A character's name was different, plot points were different, the implied future was in conflict with the ending I had just read, and large chunks of text were the exact same as in the first two chapters (as they were originally meant to be that missing epilogue after all). After reading this draft, I wondered why they moved the final epilogue to the beginning in the first place. And why give us a conflicting and confusing draft? ...
So, hope this helps if you are eager to read this classic. Skip ahead to chapter 3 (or the last paragraph at the end of chapter 2) and save the rest for a much-needed epilogue after an abrupt ending.
All this aside, the book isn't for everyone. If you're not already a fan, this checklist may help you decide whether or not to add Rebecca to your own secret treat shelf:
1. Do you like gothic fiction?
Although it was first published in 1938, Rebecca ages exquisitely and i's not hard for a modern reader to fall deeply in love with it. The style and turns of phrase are no barrier--it's the genre itself that will either draw you in or leave you cold. I loved Jane Eyre as a child, and this love abetted my love of Rebecca, which is famously derivative of Jane Eyre's general plot: woman falls in love with a man haunted in mysterious ways by his former wife. If the idea of women wandering windswept grounds of great houses, plagued by mysterious barriers to love, sometimes in the form of the ghost (literal or figurative) of another woman sounds cozy to you, if you loved Catherine and Heathcliff or Darcy and Elizabeth, and you fancy dark psychological acrobatics, give Rebecca a shot.
2. Does a warm bath, a hot drink, and a new sweater sound good to you right now?
Rebecca is a fall read, hands down. It's rainy, it's morose, it's the dominating presence of a grand old mansion in a remote location.
3. Have you seen the movie Rebecca (1940), did you like it, do you like old movies at all?
The movie does not follow the plot exactly, but having loved the movie for a long time and now having read the book, the tone of the movie feels authentic and true to the novel. Once every few years, I go on an autumn binge and watch The Uninvited (1944), Vertigo (1958), Rebecca, and to end on a lighter note, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947).
4. Are you a feminist?
Old fashioned gender roles in Rebecca's setting will definitely irk some readers. As a feminist, I was less annoyed than interested. The mirroring of the protagonist (shy, inexperienced, subservient) and the dead Rebecca (domineering, brave, selfish, accomplished) added a great sociological layer to the experience of reading. Sally Beauman's excellent Afterword offers a wonderful explanation of the gendered forces at work in Rebecca, and also addresses several misinterpretations of the novel at the time of its publication.
If you've answered yes to any of the questions above, I absolutely recommend that you read the first 30 pages at least. Get past the description of Manderly in the dream, and begin to read about when the protagonist first meets widower Maxim de Winter, and if you're liking it by then, you'll love the rest.
Top reviews from other countries
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 24, 2018
I went into this book totally blind, I had no idea of the genre or knew anything about it but after a friend absolutely loved it I couldn't wait to jump on the bandwagon, especially with the new adaptation being released.
Firstly I can only describe the prose as the language of a traditional afternoon tea. Its is so beautiful, the sentence structure flows and all I wanted to do was eat cucumber sandwiches and scones while staring at a view of rolling fields while reading.
Secondly these characters were everything. I really enjoyed Maxim, every now and again his humour arose and it reminded me so much of Lord Henry in Dorien Gray. And Beatrice was an absolute scream, I loved her voice in my head. And our protagonist, nameless from start to finish, now I've finished the book I can only describe her as the coldest character in the warmest way.
I did not expect OMG and WOW moments in this book but the turns this book took almost gave me whiplash. I do recommend reading the first two chapters again once you've finished the book as that does give it a sense of closure that felt missing when I read the last page.
I will read more from this author, everything was so vivid, the characters all had their own voices and I think this is one closing scene that literally took my breath away. I felt I was there, I could see what they saw and I felt pure traumatic calmness wash over me.