After a whirlwind romance and a honeymoon in Italy, the innocent young heroine and the dashing Maxim de Winter return to his country estate, Manderley. But the unsettling memory of Rebecca, the first Mrs. de Winter, still lingers within. The timid bride must overcome her husband's oppressive silences and the sullen history of the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, to confront the emotional horrors of the past.
©2008 Daphne du Maurier; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks
I've loved the Hitchcock film of Rebecca for years and have finally gotten around to listening to the audio book. Anna Massey does a wonderful job, as the other reviewer said, of bringing each character to life. The way I described it to my sister was that her voice for Mrs. Van Hopper made me want to reach out and slap the woman - the voice was perfect. The book made me appreciate the movie more and I must watch it again.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book as a young teenager. The audiobook held up to that memory. The narrator brought each character to life with a unique voice. I will listen to other books she narrates. She read slowly, giving nuance to each word.
I gave it four stars because it's such a classic, and the reader does a fantastic job. As for the book itself, I'd rate it between two and three stars. Those who love the book already will enjoy Massey's excellent reading of it.
I like some of what the book accomplishes. It is a great psychological tale of how perceptions can trick a mind, and how desires can seduce a person into accepting the unacceptable. It's similar to Henry James in that regard. Oddly, it reads a lot like a more florid Stephen King, too, from the subject matter, to the incredible focus on descriptive detail to prolong suspense, even to some of the plot twists and developments. Since King mentions the book in at least one of his, I suspect he was influenced by it.
But overall I had to really work to stay with it. The level of detailed description of everything from garden walkways to the sandwiches eaten at resorts is overbearing. Many of the plot turns were predictable, and you wonder how dumb the main character has to be to fall for them. The villainous Mrs. Danvers is two dimensional at best, and some of her psychological tortures seemed more farcical than scary. The window scene almost made me quit reading. To me the main character was unsympathetic and annoying. The ending was just not worth the effort, to me.
On the other hand, the writing, even when it's over-describing a garden path or a sandwich, is good, and some of the settings and details are imaginative, and you do find yourself almost seeing the whole thing sympathetically from the point of view of the protagonist if you aren't careful. It's a good book that just seems dated and unappealing to me, but I can see why others like it. And it's well read--Massey's reading of the repetitious dialogue at the party, for instance, is masterful. So if it is your kind of novel, you'll probably like it.
And in case you're wondering, I usually like this type of book. I just didn't like this book.
I really enjoyed the twists and turns of the story and highly recommend it to everyone. The suspense was gripping and I felt like I was standing in the room watching the scenes unfold before my eyes. It was as though I became a character in the story. I found myself supporting things I normally wouldn't and relishing in them. Very strange. Buy it, you won't regret it. But you will question yourself....
Rebecca is one of the few books that is worth the second (and third) listen. As good today as the first time I read it. Anna Massey brings new depth to this classic moody mystery. Plan to listen to again when I need to escape into an evocative novel.
Rebecca is one of my all-time favorite books and Anna Massey gives full value for money. However, occasionally on both parts 1 and 2 there are glitches that make it sound as though she's stuttering or repeating herself.
Anna Massey is a magnificent wonderment of a narrator. Nevertheless, don't buy this book. Don't read it. Don't listen to it. There is still time to turn back untouched. I read this book so long ago without returning to it several times as is usually my wont, I quite forgot it except for the poetic refrain of returning to Manderley. Manderley. I dreaded Mandeley. I have always dreaded Manderley. I think this book was the first time I strayed into condoning or excusing murder. I sided with the killer. Do you hear? I sided with the killer! My moral compass spun free of all restrain. Daphne du Maurier has that effect on the reader. Take care or your compass will spin uncontrollable too. Don't buy this book. Don't listen to it. Stay free!
There is a poetic magnetism interwoven into the fibers of this story which draws in the mind and overpowers the senses. Manderley, Manderley. It has been 10 or 15 years since I first read this work. Still, even today, the poem is in my brain. I am afraid. If you chose to go further, you have been warned. If you cross the border; you will not escape. Always ahead is Manderley. Manderley. The place where evil lurks. The place where we are. Turn back. Turn back while there is still time.
Somehow I had never read this classic so it was refreshing to have it read to me. It is beautifully, beautifully read – almost perfection. And the story builds in suspense to a point where it is hard to stop listening. It is a first person narrative – an impoverished, naïve, timid young woman who marries the widowed owner of a magnificent estate and then tries to fill the shoes of his beautiful deceased wife. The narrator – whose name we never get except when referred to as Mrs. de Winter – always talks of how she feels and sees in a situation. There is great detail about her surroundings, from the gorgeous flowers, the weather, the other people, and how they all affect her. I am a speed reader and am tempted to gloss over such details when they slow down the plot but having it read to me forced me to take them one at a time and they deliciously added to the building tension. It was hard to put down my iPod when my walks were over and encouraged me to not skip a day of walking! I highly recommend it.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (British classic literature) - I occasionally listen to classics, but I usually don't really care for them. This one almost got across-the-board five stars from me, but I reluctantly withheld. I'm absolutely not one to babble about gorgeous language and writing but....well, maybe just this once. The story is a little slower in the beginning (not slow, just slowER), but the writing and beautiful descriptions make up for it. I can't believe I'm actually saying that!
There is a lot of character development in the first half of the book, but there is also a great air of mystery surrounding certain events. The main character (whose name I never really caught) marries a rich guy named Maxim, but when she moves with him to his estate, Manderlay, she is overwhelmed with people who adore Maxim's recently deceased wife, Rebecca. She becomes distressed and insecure, but you will identify with her emotions and you will cringe at some of the things she goes through to try to make her marriage work and to live at Manderlay. But the book is definitely not all character development -- there's a lot of sinister plots and secrets, and things really crank up in the second half. I loved the ending. This is a classic for a reason!
PERFORMANCE - I really wanted to give Ms. Massey a five for her performance. She has such a lovely melodius voice, and her performance is enchanting. I knocked her down to a four because her male characters sound like they have sinus infections, and there are several places in the book where there seems to be an abrupt transition from one recording session to another. All in all, though, it was a lovely performance.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 4.5) There's no sex, violence or cursing, but I would still recommend this for a fairly mature listener. The main character is female and there's lots of girly insecurities, so some men may have trouble identifying with her. And while I really loved the book, the beginning may be too slow-moving for some.
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