By Ms. Shruti Vairagkar (L&T Howden)
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
An intriguing opening line which captures the imagination and attention of the reader to know more. Dame Daphne du Maurier weaves elements of crime, gothic, and romance in her story of two women, one deceased and the other living and how the former affects the latter.
A first person narration, the current Mrs. de Winter tells the reader about her life and the first Mrs. de Winter otherwise known as the titular character, Rebecca. Events of the past are interspersed frequently with the present in the first few pages – which could be jarring for the first time reader.
The nameless narrator meets Maximilian de Winter while working as a companion to a rich, English woman who is spending the winter in Monte Carlo. She marries Mr de Winter after a brief acquaintance and they move to Manderley, his ancestral home. Much of the story develops here. An insecure and wildly imaginative woman, Mrs de Winter spins her own version of events from the snippets she hears about Rebecca from the members of the household staff and the villagers which live close to the estate.
The writer expertly entwines a gentle romance of the present with the harsh love and betrayal of the past, vivid imagery of the estates and character descriptions of the housekeeper, staff, and the villagers, and tops it off with a murder mystery to boot!
Rebecca is a novel I reread every few years to revisit Manderley, its inhabitants, and the haunting descriptions. It is a book rich in not only fascinating characters but also the use of colours in describing the grounds and the rooms of Manderley. It sparks one’s interest in the workings of the human mind and could instigate the reader’s thirst to further understand the psyche.
Do read this book if you’re looking for a dark murder mystery laced with elements of romance and goth!