In the past week I have been reading the first 16 chapters of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier as part of a readalong hosted on You’ve Gotta Read This. I must say I almost didn’t make it but luckily I wasn’t working yesterday and got it done. It takes me to just over half way through the book, and these are the questions posed by Sandy to start off the discussion and my answers to them.
1. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” This is quite possibly one of the most famous opening lines of a book. How do these words set the tone for the rest of the story?
I recognised this opening although I didn’t realise it was from this book. I’m not sure that it set the tone for me really. I had no idea what the book was about before I started it so this sentence only made me wonder what Manderley was and why this person was dreaming about it.
2. Du Maurier obviously chose not to name the second Mrs. de Winter (referred to as DW2 from hereon). How did this affect your perception of her?
I found it slightly irritating that we do not know her name, and that she is only referred to as either Mrs de Winter, or “my dear girl” or “you silly child” by people. She is a lot younger than her husband but she is a married woman after all. I would have at least liked to know her first name.
3. Do you think the character of DW2 was believable?
I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, mainly because I get frustrated at the women. DW2 is very subservient and will not speak up for herself (so far, maybe this will change). When she first arrives at Manderley, even her husband doesn’t tell her what she is supposed to do and she is uncertain of her role in the household and she creeps around the house like a servant, frightened that she is doing something wrong. The spectre of Rebecca is hanging over her all the time, Mrs Danvers (the housekeeper) doesn’t respect her and I’m not really sure why Maxim chose to marry her. She is possibly a believable character but not having lived in those “olden days” I can’t be sure.
4. What was your first impression of Maxim de Winter? Did you like him? Did you trust him?
He seemed okay when we first met him, but has obviously got a troubled past. I’m wondering whether the death of his wife was a pure accident, and the dodgy cousin-in-law has a story to be told I’m sure. He also has a strange relationship with Mrs Danvers, I still haven’t worked it out yet. He can change moods quite quickly and there is a hint from his sister that he can really lose it now and again. I’ve a feeling that is about to happen in the next chapter.