This is a novel with two heroines, though one is nameless and the other is only a memory. It’s a novel which has a hero who is a murderer. It has a haunting opening sentence which has become justly famous, and since its publication in 1938 Rebecca has enthralled readers and remained Daphne du Maurier’s most popular book.
This memorable novel is like a dream. It is contained within a framing structure, told by its narrator ten years after the events which it describes. It is deliberately vague about time and place, and this gives it a haunting and memorable quality, sustained throughout the novel after its evocative opening line. It is also a chilling tale of murder, blackmail, suspense and intrigue. It is a finely structured and highly unconventional romance.
“There was Manderley, our Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, the grey stone shining in the moonlight of my dream …”
― Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Daphne du Maurier wrote Rebecca when in Egypt, desperately homesick for Cornwall. She wanted to recapture the coves, the houses, the rugged coastal scenery that she loved so much. Her own obsession with her home, Menabilly, helped her create a hero obsessed with his house.
Rebecca is a Gothic novel, with all the classic Gothic elements of brooding mansion with mysterious unused wings and locked gates, a sinister housekeeper, the power of a piece of handwriting, and the act of murder. In Gothic fiction, the house is always vitally important and Manderley is a major character in this book. Like all good Gothic houses, it has secrets and hides criminal activity.
This Literary Readers’ Guide is a real treat! In it I reveal intriguing stories about the author to help you understand what prompted this book to be written. I identify the main characters and their roles, analyse the themes behind the story, and describe the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. Included are 8 thought-provoking discussion points, perfect for books clubs or just to get you thinking a bit harder yourself.
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