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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Classic Or Not, I'd Give This Gothic Novel a Pass

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Mrs. Maxim de Winter was working as a lady's maid to a wealthy busybody on vacation in Monte Carlo when she met Maxim.  Although she was shy and awkward, the dashing widower took an interest in her.  In a surreal twist of fate, she found herself married to him just a few weeks later.  Now, she's the mistress of Manderly, a sprawling mansion on the Cornish coast.  With no experience as a wife or a woman with means, she's intimidated by both her formidable new home and her position within it.  The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, is cold and unwelcoming, obviously finding the current Mrs. de Winter no match at all for her predecessor.  Everyone, in fact, seems obsessed with Maxim's deceased first wife, Rebecca.  Her successor becomes just as fixated.  Who was Rebecca?  Why does she still have such a hold over Maxim and his associates?  Most importantly, what really happened to her?  The new Mrs. de Winter would very much like to know ...

I'm always up for a creepy Gothic novel and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a genre classic.  I'd never read it before, but lots of people love it, so I finally decided to give it a go.  It's definitely an atmospheric tale, with an eerie, unsettling vibe that kept me feeling on edge throughout.  That was my favorite part of the story by far.  Plotwise, Rebecca moves at a glacial pace, with so much extraneous information that I yawned through a good 70% of the book.  It picks up toward the end, wrapping up with an odd, abrupt ending that had me wondering if my copy of the novel was missing some pages.  The finale is satisfying, I guess, in that it's about unlikable people getting what they deserve.  While Rebecca is more layered than it first appears to be, making some sharp and subtle observations about identity, marriage, and the subjugation of women, I found it to be a long, dull slog featuring repellant characters that I didn't care for at all.  I didn't end up totally hating the book, but I certainly did not love it.  Even if you adore Gothic novels, I'd recommend giving this one a pass.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Rebecca with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.


  1. Well done on the title...I knew I had to click on it to see which classic had disappointed you. Haven't read that one yet either. I do have a modernized movie-take on it that I plan to watch at some point, but I've been holding off on that and wondering if I should read the novel first. Still not sure.

  2. I don’t know if my last comment went through so... I saw that the movie had come out on Netflix. I thought it looked good but decided to read the book first. I only got a few chapters in and it has been pretty boring. 🤦🏼‍♀️

  3. It's such a disappointment to hear about a book for years, read it, and not like it. Too bad this didn't work for you.

  4. I’ve never understood the fuss over Rebecca either!

  5. I have saved your review to read later, after I read Rebecca. Which I hope happens in 2021.


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