Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Club Friday: Rebecca, Aka the First Wife of Gothic Fiction

I am starting this post at 12:30am, Saturday morning. Yes, it was technically supposed to go up on Friday, but I've been busy, okay?

The latest book my book club has read is the gothic classic Rebecca
by Daphne du Maurier.

As usual, I read the assigned book at the last minute. We met Sunday morning via Google Hangouts. I started the book Saturday evening, and I finished it about three minutes before my friends and I were supposed to meet. Beau was very sweet and encouraging and understanding of my need to speed-read. 

The summary on Goodreads: Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamourous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers...

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print,
Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

Y'all, this book was SO good and SO creepy. There is a reason classics are classic--they are still amazing to read decades after the fact. 

Me being me, I obviously read this book with a feminist lens. I noticed two primary literary devices.

1) The reader never learns the narrator's first name. She is always referred to as Mrs. de Winter, or the second Mrs. de Winter. Her own identity is completely erased. Even her personality is erased, as she spends most of the book deferring to everyone around her and trying not to change anything.

Highlight the text between the stars, since my second point is also a major spoiler if you haven't read the book.

*2) The character Rebecca is written in a completely evil, unsympathetic light, to the extent that my immediate reaction to finding out her husband killed her was to blame her. Yes, I briefly victim-blamed a murder victim in a work of literature. And I think it was written that way intentionally. Domestic violence wasn't really talked about in the 1930s, certainly not like it is today. It's just disturbing to read about this murder and sympathize with the murderer. *

Overall, Rebecca was truly an awesome book, and I highly recommend it.

Y'all know the drill. Book Club Friday!

*This post contains a single affiliate link, just in case you're dying to order Rebecca off Amazon immediately.


  1. Rebecca is one of my favourite books because of it's amazing atmosphere and craziness. x

    1. I know! It was just so good. My book club has done a good job of picking diverse books that we all enjoy, or at least make us think.

  2. I read this for the first time about two years ago after my best friend said it was one of her favorites. It definitely has that Jane Eyre, madwoman-in-the-attic vibe to it. I agree that it is written so you feel that Rebecca deserves her fate, but I'm not entirely sure if that's because of the view of domestic violence--or because we are meant to consider how society, because of how victims are portrayed, affects our perspective? Maybe I've been hyperaware?

  3. I've heard mixed things about this one. Part of me think I'd enjoy it, but I think it's one I'll have to be in the right mood for. Regardless, I'd still love to read it at some point.


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