I confess to have picked up this book about ten years ago and giving it up in ten pages. Maybe it wasn’t the right time for me, or I wasn’t in the right state of mind, but a book can’t be read if it fails to hit the sweet spot, doesn’t it? So when I was moving away from my beloved city, Pune, I received this book as a parting gift from a friend. For a long time, it was kept on the shelves gathering dust and existing. Anxiously, one day, I happened to pick it up and scroll through the pages. The cover is black, has a picture of rhododendrons and a name inscribed in gold – Rebecca! Don’t know what lured me in, but I decided to finally read one of the world-renowned classics of the century.
‘Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again…’ This is one of the most famous opening lines in a novel, and I can imagine why. The first chapter paints Manderley in front of your eyes with intricate details and sucks you in immediately. A young girl from Monte Carlo falls in love with a middle-aged widower, owner of Manderley, who is still moaning the death of his first wife, Rebecca. Hastily married, the new bride moves to Manderley with dear husband. Mrs. Danvers, who manages everything in the estate, has a look of disdain for the new bride who has replaced her madam. What follows is the discovery of Rebecca’s shadow left behind in everything that exists in the house. Does her husband still love his first wife? Does that mean she was just a distraction from his pain?
This is not just a love story, although it claims to be just that. Manderley has a chill in the air, as the events unfold, our nameless protagonist discovers bitter truths about this mysterious estate and her husband.
The writing is poetic, every syllable, every expression is woven into this poetic drama, hard to escape from. The tale is haunting when it needs to be, dramatic when it wants to be and lovely when it ends. Of course, written in ancient times, some of the things that happen might not be very relatable in recent times. Nonetheless, if you travel back in time, it all makes sense.
There were a few complaints from my end when I finished reading, for one, I wanted to see more intimacy between the new couple. Their courtship was not very detailed in terms of their conversations which didn’t seem to fulfill me. Also, there was another little issue, why was there no painting of Rebecca in the entire house? From what we gather, she was a majestic, beautiful woman, why would she not have any remembrance of her anywhere before she died? To the world, her husband loved her dearly, would he not want to see her face to cherish her? Agreed, the author wanted to add in some more mystery to her existence but it makes you wonder is all.
This novel definitely deserves to be read and re-read. Enticing, enchanting and timeless!
Happy reading! 🙂
Favorite Quotes from the book:
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.”
“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.”
“I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say.”
“I suppose sooner or later in the life of everyone comes a moment of trial. We all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle in the end.”
(Disclaimer: All opinions expressed are strictly my own and in no way influenced.)