Saturday, 29 February 2020
"I'm afraid it does not concern me very much what Mrs de Winter used to do ... I am Mrs de Winter now you know."
My favourite moment in Rebecca is when the second Mrs de Winter finally decides to call the shots at Manderley ordering the morning room windows to be opened, the dead flowers to be taken away and crossing out Mrs Danvers' cold menu and demanding hot food in the dining room.
From that moment she rises in power and the novel is no longer a 'study in jealousy' as Daphne Du Maurier called it. Whether Maxim de Winter is worth it is another question. He is difficult to like and how much of his account is true? In fact, one of the most perceptive characters in the novel, the deeply unpleasant Jack Favell, Rebecca's cousin, is much more convincing that Maxim and gets some of the best dialogue, too.
I rather like this overblown cover featuring the red rhododendrons which grow at Manderley and symbolise danger. Interesting too, that the azaleas which also feature in the novel as Rebecca's favourite flower are highly toxic.
However many times you reread Rebecca the novel never loses its power and Manderley never loses its charm with the sloping lawns that lead down to the sea, the 'safe' west wing overlooking the rose garden and the ominous east wing showing glimpses of the sea from the landing and bedrooms.
Any recommendations for a really good biography of Daphne Du Maurier?