When I read Usha Ma'am's post on Rebecca, my curiosity was aroused for this book which has been on my bookshelf for couple of months now. I knew right then that it couldn't wait much longer. Thank you, Usha Ma'am! And that was how I started reading this priceless novel. The author had me right from the first line. Of course, it's one of the most famous starting lines in the history of literature.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again...
I'm not going to elaborate and call this a book review. I doubt if I have it in me to review such a brilliant masterpiece. Instead, I'm going to write about how much I loved it. I'm still in awe. I finished reading it this afternoon and still coming to terms with author's talent in weaving such a genius of a story. The story is subtle and powerful at the same time.
Rebecca is not the name of the protagonist. In fact, she plays the opposite. Cunning and charming, beautiful and manipulative, Rebecca haunts from beyond the grave. But then, she may as well be called one because it is around the dead Rebecca that the story revolves. The story starts off with the young nameless narrator who gets married to dashing Maxim de Winter. Rebecca is his dead wife and as the couple returns to Manderley after their short honeymoon, she has to come to terms with the first wife whose presence seems to hover around, reluctant to severe her ties.
Though the huge age difference between the couple, the young bride tries to put it all behind her. But there are people around Manderley, who is determined not to let anyone replace their beloved Rebecca. Among these are the cold Mrs. Danvers, who was Rebacca's right hand from her childhood and Favell, her first cousin. Moreover, the nagging suspicion that her husband is still in love with his dead wife is enough to give many sleepless nights for the current Mrs. de Winter.
Rebecca is the sort of novel that gives you goosebumps despite the fact that you are reading it on a sunny afternoon. Also, the language used throughout the book is beautiful and I found myself reading some sentences over and over again. Such was its simplicity and beauty. What I can tell you is this- you will not realize what struck you until the very end. And of course, Manderley, serene and lovely Manderley is a character in almost itself. It is not merely a house, but I found myself in the library by the fireplace, the window in the morning room which overlooks the vibrant rhododendrons blooming outside and the dusty rooms of the west wing.
This is a must, MUST read. Maybe you have already read this. But this is one of those few books that you would want to re-visit more than once. I know for sure that I will. This is a story of love and suspense at their very best. And yes, if you feel you are facing a writer's block when you are writing your novel, short-story or even a blog post, I would recommend this one. Read a couple of lines from anywhere in the book, inspiration is bound to strike in one form or the other. It works, trust me on this one.
Here are a few of the quotes from the book that I absolutely loved:
"If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again."
"Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind."
“I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say.”
“I suppose sooner or later in the life of everyone comes a moment of trial. We all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle in the end.”
“Men are simpler than you imagine my sweet child. But what goes on in the twisted, tortuous minds of women would baffle anyone.”
“I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone.”
“I could fight with the living but I could not fight the dead. If there was some woman in London that Maxim loved, someone he wrote to, visited, dined with, slept with, I could fight her. We would stand on common ground. I should not be afraid. Anger and jealousy were things that could be conquered. One day the woman would grow old or tired or different, and Maxim would not love her anymore. But Rebecca would never grow old. Rebecca would always be the same. And she and I could not fight. She was too strong for me.”
“When the leaves rustle, they sound very much like the stealthy movement of a woman in evening dress, and when they shiver suddenly, and fall, and scatter away along the ground, they might be the patter of a woman’s hurrying footsteps, and the mark in the gravel the imprint of a high-heeled shoe.”
Okay, I must stop now or I shall find myself quoting the entire book. In case you want to read more quotes from Rebecca, here is the link. And I'm sure by now, that it's no surprise that I have given the book a five star rating that it so deserves.