I don’t normally find myself reading classic gothic noir novels but here we are. My aunt and I did a read along together and surprisingly- I enjoyed this one! (Our Wuthering Heights read along was not as enjoyable haha!)
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”
So begins the haunting tale of one womans recollection of her time as the second Mrs de Winter of Maderley. The beautiful Manderly, once known for its lavish and extravagant balls, and the beautiful mistress of the house, Rebecca de Winter, has been shut up and quiet in the months after her death. When Maxim de Winter remarries, bringing the new Mrs. de Winter home, the place is like a living museum, the late Mrs. de Winter can be found everywhere, in every room, on all the grounds. The second Mrs. de Winter spends her days wondering about her predecessor, trying to figure out what sort of woman she was, and if Maxim truly loves her, or just attempted (and poorly so at that) to fill the gaping hole in his heart after his late wife’s tragic boating accident. The new Mrs. de Winter is nothing like Rebecca. She is neither beautiful nor refined, and finds herself at a loss for how to enter this new world she knows nothing about.
First of all, its incredibly frustrating to try and write a book review when the book never even tells you the main characters name! We never find out what the new Mrs. de Winters first name is, and I suppose the reasoning being is simple enough – the entire novel is about her never living up to Rebecca de Winters legacy. It was truly amazing how Rebecca, while not even alive, was such an integral main character in her own right. Her life (and subsequent death) cast this shadow on the entire book, every character we meet shrouded in it in some fashion, all their actions propelled by this ghost of a woman in some way.
It was far more of a mystery than I was expecting- it wasn’t so much of a coming of age novel as a thriller which was an exciting change of pace from what I had been expecting. There were only a handful of characters, many of which were not likable in the least (perhaps a product of their time? The book was published in 1938 after all but it could have very well been design as well) but the new Mrs. de Winter has some things I could relate to, one being her insane ability to overthink any and all situations haha
This classic is definitely worth a read if you have never read it, and if it’s been awhile- worth a revisit!
Until next week!