Rebecca

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of Rebecca

Book description

* 'The greatest psychological thriller of all time' ERIN KELLY
* 'One of the most influential novels of the twentieth century' SARAH WATERS
* 'It's the book every writer wishes they'd written' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .'

Working as a lady's…


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Why read it?

22 authors picked Rebecca as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Rebecca may be my favorite novel because I have read it and reread it over decades and it still intrigues me. The narrator is as plain and modest a person as ever made it onto the page. Boring. Annoyingly self-deprecating, and yet–from the beginning, we know there is a great secret she is keeping. She is another woman who must step outside her own limitations to protect the person dearest to her. I recommend this book to anyone who has never read it and to anyone who has, but not in the last few years. Revisit Manderley. 

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. You’ve heard the famous first line, maybe seen the Hitchcock movie or the recent (not very good) remake. Rebecca has been called a thriller, a Gothic novel, a romance, but in its bones it's a tale of two things: Love and murder. Handsome, brooding widower? Check. Atmospheric setting? Check. Creepy housekeeper? Check. Much of the story is told in an extremely effective stream-of-consciousness fashion. The book is eighty-some years old and it shows. There's an incident of brownface at a masquerade ball; a disabled character is treated with callousness; and…

From Neve's list on mysteries that break the mold.

Rebecca was the first book that made me fall off my chair. I had read so many “nice” stories that followed expected patterns, and this one seemed to start out the same way, and then BAM—everything’s upside down. One brief statement made by the hero, and the entire book, everything that has happened, means something completely different. The hero’s pain and grief, the intense feelings toward his late wife, it all means the opposite of what we think, and it ratchets up the suspense like a rollercoaster suddenly spinning you upside down. This book’s twisty plot totally thrilled me, and…

A masterpiece of gothic literature, Rebecca was the first book to draw me to the genre. Hooked by the first line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”…I remained spellbound by every atmospheric scene and suspenseful twist until reaching the last haunting words, “And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea." Only after finishing did I realize that the book’s narrator, the young second wife of enigmatic Maxim de Winter, is never introduced by name. Though dead, it is the title character and first Mrs. de Winter—Rebecca—who continues to torment the newly married…

Rebecca is a prime example of a book where the sense of place is so strong that it becomes a character. Manderley, based on a real-life Cornwall estate du Maurier was obsessed with, is vividly evoked in all its haunting beauty and underlying horror. The house and grounds also reflect the different characters of the unnamed narrator and Rebecca. The West Wing with its view of the sea is gorgeous but cruel like Rebecca, while the East Wing looking out on a rose garden is plain but nice like the narrator. I love this book, have read it many times,…

Not every ghost is supernatural. Sometimes hauntings are all in one’s head. That is the fate of the second Mrs. DeWinter, hopelessly overshadowed by her husband’s first wife. Who can live up to the beautiful, the sophisticated, the perfect Rebecca? Certainly not the mousy creature whom DuMaurier brilliantly doesn’t even give a name to. Seriously—don’t watch any of the lousy movies (sorry—even Hitchcock’s version!) because none of them can capture this book’s spine-chilling atmosphere or even get the danged plot right.

From Christina's list on spooky romance for chilly nights.

I simply couldn't have a list of my 5 favorite suspense novels without including Rebecca, which is the ultimate classic of the genre. I've read this multiple times, trying to figure out why it's so good—hoping it might infuse my own writing with the magic of suspense. This is a book that crosses genres. It's a romance, a ghost story, a gothic novel that harkens back to 19th century stories such as Jane Eyre. Daphne du Maurier is an author best read on a dark and stormy night!

A classic in the romantic suspense genre—Rebecca has it all. A nameless, young, naïve woman, falls in love with a mysterious, brooding, wealthy estate owner. Can she overcome the memories of the beautiful first wife? What does the creepy housekeeper have to do with this scenario? Scary, psychological drama—Rebecca reveals the dark side of love. There is truth in madness, madness in truth.

From Felicia's list on thrillers with a Gothic theme.

This classic psychological thriller is a favorite of mine because of the strong atmosphere (the estate of Manderley, by the sea) and because of the beautiful writing (always a requirement for me).  Our narrator, whose name we never learn, is young, deferential, and lacking in confidence—and so was I many years ago when I first read this book. Since then I have read it half a dozen times. It does bear re-reading. The strongest personality in the book is that of Rebecca, who is dead. This is not a ghost story, but it might as well be. 

From Sylvie's list on psychological manipulation.

Although this was made into a fabulous black and white film starring Lawrence Olivier, it still didn’t do justice to the sub-tropical magic of Cornwall or the tortured new Mrs. De Winter of Mandalay. It’s another psychologically adept narrative, with the gradual awakening of the main characters to horrific truths as fragile veneers begin to crumble under unspoken pressure. In a study of jealousy, misunderstandings, and naivety, a very real horror is gradually exposed. I love the way the human flaws are exposed, almost without their knowledge, as events escalate beyond their control, and the way Du Maurier breathes life…

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