Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Du Maurier's opening line: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again" and the superlative descriptive passage that follows are perhaps one of the most memorable beginnings among novels. Rebecca is an intriguing and evocative gothic creation: on the surface a romance, a love story, but with sinister underpinnings and a way of throwing the reader off balance.

The unnamed protagonist is a naive young woman who is swept into an unfamiliar world by her sudden marriage to Maxim, the owner of the great house Manderley. It's a "whirlwind romance" that is strangely lacking in romance, which leads to their marriage, although her love for him is desperate, infatuated and puppy-like. When they return to England and his stately home, the untried heroine is a fish out of water and feels herself under the shadow of the deceased first wife.

It's a text that can be read on several levels, simply as a romance or a mystery, but there is definitely something else going on as well. Immersed in the lead character's narrative, it can be difficult not to solely identify with her struggles but it's also a novel that raises questions about what love is and what would you do to keep it, and are there any happy ever afters - or should there be?

No comments: