This is the cover I wish I had.
My first Challenge book completed - and it was a good one! I'd been warned not to start Rebecca unless I could devote a significant amount of time in the next few days to finishing it. This turned out to be good advice. I'm reading a number of books slowly but I didn't manage to do that with this one.
It's a classic Gothic novel - dark landscapes, intriguing mysteries, dreams, a "weak" heroine in need of rescuing. Check. Check. Check. Check.
This is the I have. Blech!
I would say that Gothic novels aren't my thing but Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorite books and I had a love to hate it (or maybe a hated to love it) relationship with Villette when I read it last year so maybe I like them when I read them but just don't read many. I wasn't really sure how I'd do with this one but having heard it be compared to Jane Eyre in several places, I felt compelled to try.
Well, it is very intriguing and sucks you right into the story. I'm not one to fawn over prose but the language here is quite compelling. She sets the scenes well. Plot wise, I see where the similarities are but I think Rebecca manages to keep its own secrets fairly well. I saw some twists coming, others not at all and some I thought I had figured out but didn't quite get it right so the plot itself was great. And I finished it all in about 48 hrs because I just couldn't put it down.
But what is lacks it the strong character of Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre was weak socially and it that has a lot in common with the unnamed main character of Rebecca. But"Main Character" is also weak minded. Or maybe a better way to put it is weak willed. This is where much of the plot comes from and I didn't have an issue with her while reading the book as I felt she was also believable as that character (no eye rolling or exasperated sighs coming from me as several other goodread readers seem to have experienced) but she doesn't have the same strength of character that Jane Eyre had and it is that strength that drew me into the former and left me pondering it for days and admiring Jane as a character.
So it's not nearly at the same level as Jane Eyre. But then, Jane Eyre is a true classic for a reason and there is a lot of room below a Bronte sister and above twaddle and it's definitely a fun choice if your looking for a gothic novel or just a well written book to keep your mind occupied on a winter's weekend when you just want to snuggle up on the couch with a nice cup of tea.
Okay, I talked about the main heroine but now let's talk about "hero." He leaves even more to be desired that Mr. Rochester! Now I'm no Mr. Rochester fan. I've seen him pop up on more than one Top 10 literary lists in terms of romantic couples and heros and I'm always left scratching my head as to why. I love the book Jane Eyre and I do want him to end up with Jane Eyre but only because she wants him, not because I particularly care about his getting his own happy ending. But man, Mr. Du Mauerier, he's takes Gothic "Hero" to a whole new level. And yet - I still found myself routing for them. I disliked doing it but I couldn't really help it. It's written that way. You want them to get away with it all. They are a lot of gray areas in this book. And some really really dark charcoal grey ones. So much so that it had to be re-written when Hitchcock converted it into a screenplay. But she writes it so well that you don't notice it until the end then you step back from the story that's draw you in, think about it and are a bit horrified. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. Certainly gives one something to think about.
Rebecca is my Back to the Classics Challenge Gothic Romance Selection. See more at Books and Chocolate.