Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I am sadly behind on my period drama movie reviews for Old Fashioned Charm's period drama challenge.... So I am doing a book and movie review of Daphne du Maurier's thrilling romance Rebecca. It was recommended to me by my aunt who introduced me to the Anne of Green Gables series which started it all. Needless to say, it was fascinating. I could hardly put it down. I remember sitting up reading the last 100 or so pages feverishly late at night because I had to find out the ending. I was completely surprised.... but I won't ruin that for you, in case you want to read it.
"Rebecca" is about a young girl, who is a hired companion for a boorish Mrs. Van Hopper. The hotel they are staying at in Monte Carlo is supposed to cater to the finest people. So, when Mrs. Van Hopper sees the Maxim de Winter, owner of the beautiful estate of Manderley, and recent widower of the beautiful Rebecca, she approaches him immediately. He dislikes Mrs. Van Hopper, but finds her companion refreshing. A friendship springs up between Maxim and the young girl. So she is simply heartbroken when Mrs. Van Hopper announces that they are leaving early for America. Maxim hears of this and immediately proposes to the girl.
But when the new Mrs. de Winter shows up at Manderley, things are not what they seem. Maxim, all the servants, and even Manderley itself still seems to be under the influence of the first Mrs. de Winter.
Mrs. Danvers especially, who catered to Rebecca's every need and simply worshiped her, finds the new Mrs. de Winter to be an intruder, and a sad replacement for her "dear Rebecca." Can the new Mrs. de Winter overcome this haunting Rebecca or will she forever live in the shadow of Rebecca?
This book was full of surprises. Intrigue is woven throughout the novel, and the final revelations will leave you speechless. (or at least it did me) I remember that I couldn't suppress a little squeal and a gasp near the end.
I was a little disappointed that the new Mrs. de Winter's first name was never mentioned. Maxim always called her "sweetheart" or "dear" and the servants and guests called her Mrs. de Winter. Maxim mentioned near the beginning how she had a beautiful and unusual name... and that was all. (And I dearly love beautiful and unusual names)
I then had to watch the movie, starring Joan Fontaine (who played up the naive role perfectly) and Laurence Olivier, who was a fabulously dashing brooding hero. Usually, brooding heroes bother me and I find them exasperating and not usually attractive. (I more like the Gilbert-type myself) But after he married the new Mrs. de Winter I grew to love him. Judith Anderson played a chilling Mrs. Danvers. Her best scene, in my humble opinion, was in Rebecca's old room, during the ball, when she is talking to the new Mrs. de Winter in her beautiful costume.
Now I will leave you with the highly unique proposal of Maxim. :) I hope you will like it as much as I did. Rebecca Proposal Scene