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.
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.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
I was of the minority who had no idea what this book was about. The only thing I knew was that the author was British. I found that I was surprised on a couple occasions when certain truths were revealed in the story - so I guess that means the story is not predictable.
There were two moderate drawbacks to the story:
1) it went on a bit too long (after the big truth is revealed, the protagonist continues to babble on about the tea service and furniture and how remarkably remarkable everything was)
2) the entire mystery/story hinges on the reader accepting that the protagonist lives in a little world of her own and is too young/naive/dumb to question anyone's behaviors - if she had done so, the story falls apart as soon as she reaches Mandaley.
Given all that, I still quite liked it. It has great atmosphere and is narrated brilliantly.
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.
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
Our unnamed narrator, a young woman just barely out of school is working for a rich and unpleasant American woman on a visit to Monte Carlo as a companion, when she meets Maxim de Winter, a English man twice her age and recently widowed, who nevertheless courts her and asks her to marry him within a couple of weeks. Given the choice between following her employer to New York and spending her life on the renowned Manderley estate in England with this dashing older man, she opts for a quick marriage and honeymoon in Italy. When the newlywed couple arrive at Manderley and are greeted by the staff, the young woman is immediately made to feel ill at ease. Nothing in her background has prepared her to take charge of this kind of residence, something which the very scary housekeeper Mrs Danvers, who is devoted to the late Mrs De Winter, doesn't fail to make all too clear. In no time at all, our young woman is convinced she's made a mistake. Her husband seems to have little interest in her and she is convinced that his first wife Rebecca still has a hold on him and everyone else she's ever graced with her charms. Very little actually happens for at least the first half of this novel, but the tension could be cut with a knife, the Gothic atmosphere is brilliantly conveyed, and pretty soon it becomes impossible to know who should and shouldn't be trusted. A great mystery novel beautifully narrated by Anna Massey, one of my all-time favourites.
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