This morning I was reading Rebecca again.
It’s long been one of my favourite books but it’s been years since I last read it. There is something special about reading a book when you know the characters and what happens to them and yet at the same time you want it to turn out differently – to prevent the disaster happening, and to help them understand where they’re going wrong. I first read it as a young teenager and was instantly captivated by the story. Re-reading it now I have the same feelings about it – I long to know Maxim De Winter’s second wife’s name; the most we know is that it is a “lovely and unusual name“, given to her by her father and I want to give her a good shake. She is so lacking in self-confidence, timid and obsessed by Rebecca, the first wife.
I still feel the tension, the mystery and suspense as the story unfolds even though I know what’s coming next, but it’s the details I’ve forgotten and re-reading means that I don’t need to rush through to find out what happens and can concentrate on those details. For example I’d forgotten about the visit to Beatrice and Maxim’s grandmother. This is a small episode which encapsulates the pathos of old age, the loss of memory and the way that old people are treated.
After my first reading of Rebecca I eagerly read as many of Daphne Du Maurier’s books as I could find. So I read Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek, Mary Anne, The Scapegoat and The King’s General. I loved them all and have re-read them several times. I cannot imagine how it came about that I’ve lost my copies of Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, and Frenchman’s Creek but I have! So all I have left of my original books are these:
I bought a set of ten books a while ago from The Book People which included the three books I’ve lost.
I’ve since read The House on the Strand, The Flight of the Falcon and Castle Dor. None of them are as good as Rebecca, which was disappointing and I wondered if I would find Rebecca a bit of a let down now, which is why I’m now re-reading it. I’m glad to find that it is just as good as I remembered it to be! Some time soon I must re-read the other three books and hope they’ll be as good as well. And in future I’d like to read her other books too – not just those in the photograph but all her other books as well. I’ve read Margaret Forster’s biography, which I thought was excellent and I’d love to read Justine Picardie’s biogrpahical novel, Daphne, and Flavia Leng’s Daphne du Maurier : A Daughter’s Memoir.