Rebecca. This is a classic I had been meaning to read for years. I started it a few years back (it’s been on my Kindle that long) but was distracted by something else I “needed” to read.
We never learn the first name of our narrator. She is described as young woman without worldly experience. You know straight away she is impressionable, a bit naive but kind-hearted. She is often referred to as the new or second Mrs. de Winter. Personally I think she was named after her father. I thought that after this exchange with Maxim de Winter over dinner.
“You have a very lovely and unusual name,” said Mr. de Winter.” “My father was a lovely and unusual person,” our narrator replies.
Our young lady is swept off her feet by the worldly and kind Maxim de Winter, eager to take her role as wife and lady at Manderley. She daydreams about her new home, how they will have children and what a wonderful life they will have. Gothic themes, love, jealousy and murder abound in this story.
When the second Mrs. de Winter meets Mrs. Danvers she hopes the two can become friends, have a friendly face to assist in her new role. The arctic personality of Danvers was evident from the start – no friendly face or help with that one.
“There were never any complaints when Mrs. De Winter was alive”, said Mrs. Danvers. She is comparing me to Rebecca and sharp as a sword the shadow came between us……..”
Frankly, I would have been very nervous around Mrs. Danvers. I didn’t grow up in a high society or upper class setting and I can imagine poor little new Mrs. de Winter is intimidated. In over her head, absolutely. It’s only later that you realize what an unhealthy, obsessive one-sided relationship Danvers had with her employer.
Since the beginning of the book is actually a description of the end of their lives at Manderley, I had to go back and read the first chapter again. It all dovetails into a complete story.
Their lives are nothing like they hoped, they are merely existing. Now I see Maxim had a genuine desire to experience a loving marriage with his young bride. While she thought she was being compared to Rebecca and found wanting, it was actually the opposite. Max was delighted with her open genuine spirit and her love.
Remember, I did state Spoilers and they will continue…..
We discover Rebecca didn’t drown but was murdered, her body placed in a boat and submerged. Are we then surprised that Maxim did it? That the second Mrs. de Winter stays with him and is actually happy he truly loves her rather than appalled over the murder? Once Manderley burns they live a faded existence, avoiding talk of their past, staying in hotels but living frugally. It’s a sad story but oh so well written.
Curried prawns, roast veal, asparagus, cold chocolate mousse
Ice cold consume, fillets of sole and hot shoulder of lamb
Those dripping crumpets, tiny crisp wedges of toast, piping hot floury scones, gingerbread and Angel cake….and so much more.
I wanted to prepare the sole and asparagus but, as luck would have it, a friend caught 20 Mangrove Snappers and gave us some fillets. What a gift! It’s a wonderfully solid fish that grills exceptionally well. We did manage the asparagus though. And a Martini.
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