August 4, 2009

Classics Bookclub: Rebecca

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

And so Rebecca begins. I'm not sure how I, a voracious reader, ever missed reading this classic. Now that I have, I'm so pleased that it was the selection for the latest Classics Bookclub at 5 Minutes for Books.

Classics Bookclub

My friend Lisa challenged us with many thoughtful discussion questions (this book is one of her favorites, after all!). I'll tackle a few.

Why do you think the heroine remains nameless? (did you notice she was never referred to by name?) Don’t you find it interesting that the novel is titled “Rebecca” yet our narrator is nameless? Why the contrast, do you think? Do you see her anonymity as indicative of some deeper meaning?
I have to say, it bothered me that we never learn the name of our heroine/narrator. I really don't like not knowing something. Still, I think the novel is aptly titled, since both the current Mrs. DeWinter and Maxim are haunted by Rebecca's memory (though for very different reasons). Our heroine is living within the confines of Rebecca's shadow, and so it suits that we are never told her name.

Rebecca has one of the more famous opening lines in literature. How do the opening lines set the tone of the novel?
From the opening line, I was hooked. Why does she want to return to Manderley? Why can't she return? I kept asking myself those questions through most of the novel. The answers weren't what I expected, which is the mark of a great story. I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say that I feel that one of the tragedies of Rebecca is that just as our heroine is in a position to claim Manderley, this place that she has grown to love, as her own...she cannot.

I would be remiss if I wrote about this book without mentioning the creepy Mrs. Danvers. Every scene with her made my skin crawl, and kept my eyes glued to the pages long after they should've been closed for the night.

Have you read Rebecca? If not, I highly recommend it. Even if you have, it's worth another look.

You can read what everyone else is saying about this classic over at 5 Minutes for Books.


Amy said...

Oh, that Mrs. Danvers--DuMaurier outdid herself with HER, didn't she?

It is a great story!

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I really enjoyed it too -- and also am unsure why I completely missed it all these years.

Carrie said...

On the Du Maurier website they make a pretty strong case that the narrator isn't named because she represents Du Maurier herself, which is interesting. (Esp. in light of the fact that she said the book was a study in jealousy!)

This IS a fun story. I'm glad you read it! =D

Anonymous said...

I love Rebecca...I reread this book every couple of was one of my mom's favorites and I remember reading it one summer in my teens and feeling so grown up...I am glad others are discovering it!

Bluestocking said...

I didn't read the book, but I have seen most of the movie. Mrs. Danver is creepy!!

Lisa writes... said...

Yeah, and didn't the hints about her name drive you crazy with curiousity? The unusual spelling and all that?

So glad you liked it! And I agree: Mrs. Danvers was some kind of creepy...

ibeeeg said...

Enjoyed your review.

Your answer to what you thought of the beginning of the story triggered a thought that I was going to reread the beginning. Shoot... I already returned the book.
I wanted to reread the beginning because I think now that I know the story the beginning will be far more insightful. The beginning did captured me and I wanted to know the answers to the same questions you asked.

I was camping all week, just posted my review review.