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June Books 3) Rebecca

3) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The first paper book I've read this month (the other two were electronic). This was Anne's big find from the BBC Big Read. (I've read four or five other books off the list that I probably wouldn't have read otherwise; the two unexpected pleasures so far were Holes by Louis Sachar and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.) About Rebecca, I wrote a year ago:
Would have been in the category of "19th century girly books I never felt like reading" except that it is a twentieth century book! But given my experience with Pride and Prejudice, I may have to try it and see.
Well, I did try and see, and I did enjoy it. I almost gave up halfway through, as the first half of the book was so relentlessly depressing, and I spotted what was going to happen at the fancy dress ball miles in advance. But then the twist almost in the next chapter took me completely by surprise, and so did the final twist at the end.

A heavily spoiler-ridden preface in my Virago edition by Sally Beauman (author of the "sequel", Rebecca's Tale) claims that du Maurier manages to avoid slipping into too much melodrama, a large claim that I can't completely agree with. She also makes the inevitable comparison with Jane Eyre. Self-effacing orphan heroine tring to cope - check. Dominant husband with dark secret about his first wife - check. Embarrassing party - check. House burns down - check. Actually the nameless narrator of Rebecca is a much less interesting character than Jane Eyre, who at least stood up for herself now and then.

However; good book; enjoyed it; might look out for more of the same.

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