It’s an unarguable classic, with worldwide fame and never being out of print. Even if you’ve never read it you’ll probably have heard of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Or at least some of her other famous titles which have been made into equally as famous films, these include Jamaica Inn and Birds.
Du Maurier is a favourite author of mine, and has been for many years, and I recently re-read Rebbecca as, I do with all my favourites.
This time it felt different though. It’s been a number of years since I last read it, perhaps even as long ago as late teens or early twenties. The book has always suggested underlying messages and ideas, du Maurier was a very intelligent author after all, but even she couldn’t have foreseen how relevant the tale of Rebecca would be during 2017 and the surrounding years.
The story (without giving any spoilers away, of course) centres around an unnamed female character who meets a wealthy widowed gentleman, high up in society, whilst working as a companion (you’re basically paid to follow a rich woman around and be her friend) in Monte Carlo. Skip to the chase and she marries the man and goes back to his grand home – the famous Manderley. Before she even gets there she begins to be haunted by snippets of her new beau’s ex wife Rebecca. Snippets of conversation, a note in a book, and then she is everrrywhhhere… Ornaments, labels, boathouses, she’s kept especially alive by the old housekeeper: the skeletal Mrs Danvers. Unnamed female character spends four months of her life at Manderly becoming entranced and obsessed with this Rebecca and her untimely death by drowning.
She compares herself to her, constantly feels everyone else is comparing them, and unfavourably so too, wondering and imagining what her husband and her late wife’s marriage was like.
Sound familiar? No? Well how about if you compare it to the way people these days get themselves fixated by those little boxes on Instagram, or the 140 characters of Twitter, the brief snapshots curtesy of Snapchat… Suddenly Unnamed female character’s tale can fit directly to the lives of so many young and not so young impressionable people out there today.
We’ve all probably done it to some degree, compared ourselves to what we see of others on social media. Are our clothes as nice? Why does my hair not look like that? Why can’t I be talented like they are? Look at their life, isn’t it great?
But just as Du Maurier’s novel unfolds, and Rebecca’s life and marriage start being opened up to us, showing unnamed female character it wasn’t necessarily as she had first thought, we too shouldn’t be taken in by what we see online.
A person’s Instagram cannot show us what their life is REALLY like, and to become obsessed by what may not be all it seems is unhealthy and can even lead to dire consequences.
Rebecca is more in tune with life than it probably ever has been, hauntingly so.
I implore all to read it and relate to it and maybe even learn from it.
But, of course, more than anything, just enjoy the simply brilliant novel with descriptions unlike any other and characterisations so great you’ll feel like you know them personally…
P.S I love hearing people’s ideas on why the lead character is left unnamed. What are yours?!
I think it’s because she could be anyone, she could be you… You… Or you. Her ambiguity makes her relatable and makes her every single one of us. How did du Maurier get it so right?!
Sent from my iPhone