Imagine marrying someone you barely know only to find out you are living in the shadow of your partner’s ex-spouse. In Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, the narrator, who is the new Mrs. De Winter, is a young woman in her early ‘20s who marries an older man, Maxim De Winter. She moves to his estate, Manderley, in England and discovers that the staff at the estate loved Rebecca, Maxim’s ex-wife, and they want the house to operate the way it did when Rebecca was alive. As the new Mrs. De Winter settles into Manderley, the truth about Rebecca and how she died begins to unfold.
While reading Rebecca, you feel like you have been transported into the early 1900s in England, as the book was copyrighted in 1938. Du Maurier paints a vivid picture of the story’s events as she provides details about the narrator’s observations of her surroundings and other people. The author also provides details about the new Mrs. De Winter’s daydreams to emphasize her low self-esteem and to provide some comedic relief. The author focuses on building suspense throughout the story to the point where once you have reached the end of a chapter, you are on the edge of your seat burning for more details.
Jealousy is the major theme in Rebecca, and the author shows how it causes misunderstandings and damages relationships. The narrator is oozing with jealousy, and it holds her back from being courageous in challenging situations. When the narrator learns the truth about Rebecca, she feels free to overcome the obstacles that have been holding her back. The narrator becomes an anti-hero in the story, and by the end of the book, you are not sure whether you should cheer for her or not.
If you are looking for a book with historical, romantic, and suspenseful elements, then Rebecca is a classic, essential must-read.