Posts Tagged With: Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

So begins what is probably Daphne Du Maurier’s most famous novel.

Our unnamed narrator is a young girl working as a companion to a lady in Monte Carlo, when she meets Maxim De Winter, a handsome and mysterious widower, who has come to get away from the aftermath of his wife’s death.  The narrator is instantly taken with de Winter, and a swift engagement and wedding soon follows.

However, when de Winter takes her back to his Manderley, his family home and estate, she discovers a very different way of life, which is still very much consumed with de Winter’s dead wife, Rebecca.  The staff and local residents are very intrigued by de Winter’s young wife, and she feels that she can never compare to Rebecca, especially in the eyes of Mrs Danvers, the cold housekeeper at Manderley, who seems to resent the new Mrs de Winter.

And our narrator soon learns that nothing at Manderley is quite what it seems, and she finds herself wondering who exactly she married, and what secrets are held in by the walls of Manderley….


I have meant to read this book for a very long time, and I wish I had read it sooner.  There is a dark and sinister atmosphere thoughout the whole book, and the reader knows only as much as the narrator, so that her discoveries and worries become our own.

Manderley is effectively another character in the book, with it’s brooding intensity.  Rebecca also, despite not being alive, is a major presence throughout the story.

The writing is very clever, and there are twists and turns in the story which, if I was not already familiar with the story, would not have guessed.  In truth, any reader who does not know the story would be kept guessing until the end.

The characters are also all very believable, from the hateful Mrs Danvers, to Maxin’s well meaning sister in law Beatrice, our narrator, and most of all, Maxim himself, who at times is a mass of contradictions.

I can certainly see why this novel has become a modern classic, and it is deserving of all the acclaim it has received.

Highly recommended.  I shall be seeking out more work by Daphne Du Maurier.

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Daphne: A Novel About the Author of Rebecca by Justine Picardie

In this interesting fact-based novel the author tells the story of how Daphne du Maurier came to write her biography of Branwell Bronte in the early 1960s, The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte.

When the novel opens Daphne du Maurier is in her early fifties and is dealing with a host of personal problems. Her husband Tommy has had a breakdown and is temporarily hospitalized. Their relationship is rocky in any case because of Daphne has found out that he had a recent affair. She is portrayed as being rather unstable, she frequently hears the voice of her most famous character, Rebecca, and she can hardly ever bring herself to leave her isolated house, Menabilly.
As Daphne becomes enthralled with the Brontes and writing a biography on Branwell, she begins to write letters to J. Alexander Symington who had edited a Collected Works of the Brontes and been the librarian of a large collection. It becomes clear that he has a large collection of original Bronte manuscripts (questionably acquired!) and he offers to sell some of them to her. But since he has planned to write a book himself for many years he only sells her a few unimportant pages, keeping the best back for himself.
The story is told from alternating points of view: Daphne du Maurier, Mr. Symington and a young female narrator who is not named. She is a young student who is working on Daphne du Maurier’s obsession with the Brontes for her PHD. She discovers the letters between Daphne and Mr. Symington by accident but they end up having quite an impact on her personal life.
This novel is packed with facts that make it a fascinating read for any lover of English Literature, Daphne du Maurier or the Brontes. For example, J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, adopted Daphne’s five male cousins after they were orphaned in 1910. (That part of the story was made into a movie a few years ago, Finding Neverland). He was part of the family, Daphne called him “Uncle Jim.” And Daphne du Maurier put her diaries of her early life in a bank vault in 1979 with orders that they not be released for fifty years!
It’s an intriguing story, well written and carefully researched. I recommend it!
Daphne by Jutine Picardie will be released by Bloomsbury in August, 2008.
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