Sunday, 16 January 2011

Rebecca Readalong Post #1

Participating in the Rebecca Readalong, I have read the first half of the book now and want to share my thoughts about it. In the first chapter a preface is given by the unnamed narrator du Maurier has chosen to tell the story. She escaped Manderley with her husband Maxim de Winter as she could not succeed becoming its new Mistress. She is haunted by Maxim's first but dead wife Rebecca. The story sets on describing how the young, orphaned girl became the second Mrs. de Winter and how she was received at Manderley, Maxim's home, where one year ago the beautiful Rebecca has drowned in the bay.

Our narrator is still aware of the former presence of Rebecca, who entertained many visitors at Manderley and with a sure hand had run the house, who was talented and had a good taste. The narrator struggles to follow in Rebecca's steps. But she can only fail. The reason for that is the constant comparison between the idealized Rebecca and the insufficient second wife. She had never had a chance because people who had adored Rebecca had set their minds before even getting to know the new girl. For an example take Mrs. Danvers. She hates the new Mrs. de Winter not for being the person she is but for not being Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers would have hated every new Mrs. de Winter for not being Rebecca as a matter of fact. And all the other people the new wife has to face feel the same way.

"When I go returning these calls, as I did this afternoon, I know people are looking me up and down, wondering what sort of success I'm going to make out of it. I can imagine them saying, "What on earth does Maxim see in her?" And then, Frank, I begin to wonder myself, and I begin to doubt, and I have a fearful haunting feeling that I should never have married Maxim, that we are not going to be happy. You see, I know that all the time, whenever I meet anyone new, they are all thinking the same thing - How different she is to Rebecca."

I have read about this and found a German Wikipedia entry terming it the Rebecca Myth. In a glorifying retrospect people believe that everything had been for the better in the past, Rebecca's past. The myth becomes stronger the more this subjective belief strengthens.

Actually I would have hoped for the narrator that she finds a way in the hearts of the people and frees herself of shyness and fears but for the preface everything points at the narrator not being able to ever meet the expectations of the people at Manderley. Nevertheless I'm looking forward to read on hoping for the new girl.

This readalong is hosted by Allie at The Literary Odyssey.


  1. That myth is interesting!

    I'm glad to see that it seems you are enjoying the book so far! The action really picks up in the second half.

  2. Interesting post. It definitely made me feel a bit more for the narrator. I think I was a little hard on her in my post.

    Here is a link if you want to check it out:
    I posted my thoughts on the first half. I'm looking forward to more creepy Mrs. Danvers in the second half as well.

  3. Great post, and nice info on the myth. I share your sentiments on the narrator, she may just suprise you as the novel progresses.

  4. I read on today and certainly was surprised. I would never had thought of this to come. I'm looking froward to finishing the book tonight.

  5. I so love this novel. I'm looking forward to your thoughts at the end; it has one of the best endings ever in my opinion!