Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Book Review: Rebecca

Several people shuddered when they heard the book club book for June was a Daphne du Maurier. Apparently she's supposed to be a hard read. Nothing could be further from the truth with Rebecca though.

I wasn't overly familiar with the story, having only the vaguest of memories of the Hitchcock dramatisation as one of the many movies I watched on a Saturday afternoon as a boy, but it wasn't long before the pages were turning as du Maurier's fascinating prose passed beneath my flicking eyes.

Far from being a hard read, the 400+ pages fell away. I found I loved her style (whether it's not traditional du Maurier I don't know) - bubbly, spontaneous and full of sharp observation. I recognised many of the traits of her characters, empathised with the way the unnamed narrator takes off in flights of fancy before coming back to a reality that in the end bears no resemblance, and shuddered at the creepiness of Mrs Danvers as she padded the empty corridors of the west wing.

Much of the story seems formulaic now, having been copied many times since its publication in the 1930s, but somehow that doesn't detract from its charm. Perhaps because it is an original no matter how familiar the structure and how easily spotted are the problems "the second Mrs de Winter" has to handle and the mistakes she makes.

If you're in the mood for an unchallenging read that nevertheless delivers a few surprises and is thoroughly well written throughout, you could do worse than give this classic a try. It didn't quite manage to gain the accolade of the club's favourite book, but it scored very well and rightly so.

1 comment:

Gloria Horsehound said...

Hitchcock was the master of British cinema and his handling of 'Rebecca' was, in my opinion, breathtaking.