Rebecca is one of my favorite gothic fiction books. Like Frankenstein, I watched the movie first and absolutely adored it. It’s one of my favorite films and one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films.
I like to kid that Rebecca is Northanger Abbey’s great grandchild as it takes place roughly four generations after Northanger Abbey and has similarities to Austen’s work.
The book starts in the present (1938) with one of the best opening lines: “Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly”. And has our main character, who’s name is unknown, eating with her husband Maxim de Winter.
The fact that we never know the name of our narrator…
We all have secrets and we all have parts of our past that we would prefer to forget. That does not mean, however that life will allow us to.
The Wife Upstairs: A Novel, by Rachel Hawkins was published at the end of last year. Orphaned at an early age and raised in the foster care system, Jane Bell learned early that survival is the top priority. Now in her early twenties, she has recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and earns her living by walking the dogs of the super-wealthy. She also adds to her pocketbook by pocketing trinkets and other small pieces that none of her employers will miss.
Things change for Jane when she meets Eddie Rochester, a thirty-something widower. Surrounding Eddie is the mysterious death of his late wife, Bea, and her best friend. After running into each other, he asks Jane to go out with him. She says yes. Within the blink of an eye, she has moved into his house and they are engaged.
But things are not what they seem. Jane’s past seems to be catching up to her. Though Bea is physically gone, she is ever-present. Will they have their happily ever after or will their mutual literal ghosts come back to haunt them?
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The logline is Jane Eyre meets Rebecca in modern-day Alabama. It is delicious, it is thrilling, romantic, sexy, and an absolute must-read.
Do I recommend it? Without a doubt.
The Wife Upstairs: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.
Rebeccais one of those books that readers come back to time and again. There is a reason that Daphne du Maurier‘s novel of love, jealousy, and secrets is considered to be a classic.
The Netflix reboot starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas premiered earlier in the week. The unnamed narrator and future Mrs. de Winter (James) is introduced as a paid companion to a wealthy woman who is eager is climb the social ladder. In Monte Carlo, she meets Maxim de Winter (Hammer). Maxim is a widower and the owner of Manderley, a sprawling estate on the English coast. Swept off her feet, she says yes to his marriage proposal.
But upon arrival at her new home, she discovers that all is not what it seems. Her husband’s deceased wife, Rebecca still haunts her former home. The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Scott Thomas), takes pleasure in tormenting the new Mrs. de Winter via the memory of the previous Mrs. de Winter.
I wish I could say that I loved this adaptation. The truth is that it was not what it could have been. There is a certain something in the novel that raises the hair on the back of the neck. That feeling is missing from the movie. The other issue that I had is that as good an actor that Lily James is, she is not quite right for the part.
Her performance was stronger when her character began to realize the truth. As a viewer, I couldn’t wrap my head around her youth and naivete in the beginning of the story. Among the main actors, Kristin Scott Thomas was the best part of the film. She was both creepy and charming, if that combination is ever possible.
Gothic novels have thrilled readers for centuries. Questions of the unknown and what lies in wait in the darkness has been the subject of countless stories across the generations.
The new novel, Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, was released back in June. Noemí Taboada is a young debutante in early 1950’s Mexico. Though she is very used to the material comforts of life, she is also stubborn, intelligent, and unafraid. When Noemí receives a disturbing letter from her newlywed cousin, Catalina, she jumps on the first train she can get on.
Catalina’s new husband is the heir of wealthy family with English origins. Once upon a time, their wealth came from local mines. But those mines have long since gone dark. Noemí discovers that the cousin she knew is that not the woman in front of her. There are also disturbing questions about the family Catalina has married into.
Can Noemí discover their secrets? Will she and Catalina get out of there safely or will they be held prisoner for the rest of their days?
Previous reviews have compared this book to Rebecca andJane Eyre. The comparisons are fair. The Gothic elements are skillfully woven into the narrative. That being said, this book was a little disappointing. The big reveal is not as earth-shattering as I expected it to be. The ending is also a little bit of a letdown for my taste.
Do I recommend it? Maybe with a slight lean toward no.
After one’s spouse passes on, it is common for the surviving spouse to remarry after a period of time. The question is, has the surviving spouse moved on or does the memories of their late husband or wife live on?
In the classic novel, Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, the main character is a young woman who is only named once in the story. Working as a paid companion for a wealthy American socialite, she meets Maxim de Winter in France. Maxim is a good twenty years older than the narrative, wealthy and a widower. They quickly fall in love and marry.
After the honeymoon, the newlyweds arrive at Maxim’s estate, named Manderley to start their new lives together. But something is off. Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper can only be described as sinister. Though the late Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, has passed on, her presence is still felt. Can the narrative discover the secrets of the past, or will Rebecca haunt them forever?
I’ve heard of this book, but I’ve never read it until now. I am so glad that I did. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what secrets this house held and how long it would be before those secrets were revealed.
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