I read this book when I was in high school and full of girlish romantic leanings that I kept pretty close to my vest. I was not the most popular girl in high school; rather, I was one of the nameless and faceless rabble that rambled though the halls with long lank hair, wire-rimmed glasses, blue jeans and bohemian blouses, and boots or sandals scuffing the floors. Reading a romance about a similarly plain young woman who catches the eye of an older sophisticated man was just the literary medicine for my poor beleaguered adolescent soul.
I identified completely with the nameless young girl who marries Max deWinter and returns from a whirlwind honeymoon in Venice to the wild coast of Cornwall and the fantasy estate of Manderley. It was like 'Jane Eyre grows up and does a bit of time travel' . I loved it. I loved hating Mrs. Danvers and thinking that Frank Crawley was just like my real -life dear friend Billy Carr - faithful, steadfast, and always ready to whisk me away in his car to smoke cigarettes and talk endlessly. I had the same unhealthy obsession with the idea of Rebecca and just knew that she was 'a bad seed'. And I was stuck on Max ... until I learned that he had a very dark secret. Then, my sense of righteous anger turned on him and I wondered how on God's green Earth could my mousy alter-ego stay true to him, when she had Frank Crawley, the best of men, so steadfast and true as a friend ?
I just re-read the book of my youth and l am still enthralled by the story in all its proper romanticism. I love the languidness of the story's unfolding, the dark foreboding of the descriptions of the house and grounds around Manderley and the weather that settles over the estate as the summer passes and the events of Rebecca's secrets unfold. One thing that I notice, now that I'm older, is the detailed descriptions of the plants and flowers and bird life of the book. Ms. duMaurier was a lover of nature, as her knowledge of the natural world comes through clearly in the book. As I have grown older and become interested in gardening and the wildlife around our home I can read the book with 'another eye'. That's the beauty of rereading old favorites; they become new because of our growing maturity.
That does it. I need to order up Hitchcock's cinematic version of 'Rebecca' for this week's screen time ... Netflix, here I come! What a nice return to my romantic roots ...
PS - Wasn't she a stunner !