Rebecca Daphne duMaurier
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again...
So, the main reason I wanted to read this was because of the Mrs. Danvers clones that show up in the Thursday Next books.
For those who don't know the story, our nameless narrator is young, shy, and naive. She's a lower middle class girl who has a job as a paid companion to a vulgar, but rich, American. It's while Mrs. Van Hopper is vacationing in the south of France when our narrator meets Maxim deWinter.
She claims to fall in love with him, but their relationship is seriously messed up. Her feelings are that of excitement at his wealth and dashingness, he treats her like a child, or more precisely, like his beloved pet. Once they get back to his estate, Manderley, our narrator feels haunted and suffocated by the presence of Maxim's late wife, Rebecca. She's convinced Maxim still loves her and that his friends are always comparing her to him. And then there's the creepy housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who keeps Rebecca's memory alive, her clothes set out on her bed in her closed-up bedroom (although it's a room that Danvers spends an unhealthy amount of time in.) Mrs. Danvers makes no secret about the fact that she wants the new Mrs. deWinter gone.
And then there are the pieces of Rebecca's death that don't quite add up...
This is one of those classic romances where I just don't see the love in the romantic relationship. I mean, the relationship is seriously messed up and that's part of the book, but for the fact that the narrator tells me she loves Maxim, I would never have guessed. Lots of things about the narrator are things she tells us, but never shows us. Some of that is that the book is told in flashback, so she has a different perspective on the person she was. Some of that is that she's just weird. I never liked her. I never took to her and I alternated between pitying her and wishing she would grow a spine and do something about what was going on around her.
I have to admit, I'm a little unsure why this is a classic of literature. Is it pretty awesome? Yes. Is it the stuff I remember from English class (and I enjoyed the vast majority of what I read for English class.) No. It's a little um... trashier? than that.
But oh! Mrs. Danvers. What a perfect villian! The housekeeper with a hidden agenda who is super-creepy looking and acting. And Jasper Fforde is right-- nothing is scarier than an army of Mrs. Danvers clones. *shudder*
Also, you should go back and read Leila's posts when she was reading it!
Book Provided by... my local library
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