Reading Rebecca for Daphne Du Maurier Reading Week

I wrote in my last post about HeavenAli’s #DDMreadingweek project and my status as a DDM newbie. I started reading Rebecca and was hooked from the very first, very famous line: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”….

Little did I know that I was in for a transformative experience. It is a very long time since I picked up a book which I could hardly put down again. Oh what a joy it was to be totally engulfed by this utterly compelling story and DdM’s brilliant story-telling. The tension; the characters; the scene-setting – I was on the edge of my seat right through to the last word.

I’m not sure why I have not been drawn to Du Maurier’s work before. Perhaps, with Rebecca in particular, it was because I felt like I already knew the book by osmosis. If so, how wrong I was and how very glad I am to have put all of that behind me.

I have loved all the various DDM posts on other blogs so far this week and have a hugely expanded To Be Read list as a result. In addition, let me ask all you DDM aficionados, have you read either of the Rebecca sequels (by Susan Hill and Sally Beauman) and if so, can you recommend them? I can’t imagine anything matching up to the original but it might be intriguing to see how these authors move the story forward.

And I feel compelled to read more about DDM herself. I have my eye on her autobiographical book Myself When Young, thanks to Sandra over at A Corner of Cornwall and I know there are plenty of other biographies around. Is there anything you would particularly recommend?

Let me close by saying a huge thanks to Ali for hosting this excellent reading enterprise and for inducting me into the wonderful world of DDM’s writing. 🙂

30 thoughts

  1. Oh, good–you loved it! I figured you would! I haven’t read the sequels but I’ll check back to see if anyone else has an opinion. I don’t think I’d like them . . . The House on the Strand is good, too!

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  2. It’s great to hear how much you enjoyed it Liz! I remember being similarly entranced when I read it as a teenager. It’s a mystery why I never picked up DDM again until this week! I agree all the posts have been wonderful.

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  3. There are so many books to read and you’ve done more than your bit to read as many as possible! Lovely that you’ve found this classic so engaging. Now I must read it!!!!

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  4. I haven’t read the sequels and have no inclination to, because it is so good as it is. But I do really strongly recommend getting hold of a DVD or download of the BBC adaptation from 1979 – I would never have believed it was that long ago if I hadn’t just googled it! – which had Anna Massey as an insidious and haunting Mrs Danvers, as mesmerising as a snake, Jeremy Brett as Max and Joanna David as the second Mrs DeWinter. Powerful and Atmospheric. Here’s a link ( I think) and now read Jamaica Inn!

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  5. I’m glad you’ve had such a great experience with your first du Maurier novel! I had similar feelings when I read Rebecca for the first time, many years ago. I have read the Sally Beauman sequel, Rebecca’s Tale, but can’t remember much about it now. It was worth reading, I think, as long as you don’t expect it to compare to the original.

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    • Thanks Helen, that’s really interesting about the Beauman. I completely agree with you that any sequels must be read with managed expectations. It’s a bonus then if they turn out to be enjoyable!

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  6. Liz, I am so pleased at your reaction to Rebecca. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I think Du Maurier suffers by being cast as a writer of romance (though she regards Rebecca as a study in jealousy) and her versality and abilities don’t always get the recognition they deserve. We are certainly putting that to rights in Ali’s reading week! I haven’t read any of the sequels/prequels/spin offs but I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts if you try any of them. Jamaica Inn is perfect as your next DDM book, chock-full of foreboding, atmosphere and dark deeds yet never losing her capacity as a writer of exquisite sentences. I should have another post out this evening on Myself When Young (shorter than the last one I hope 😉 ) There are of course all manner of biographies about her, Margaret Forster’s being the best regarded I think. It’s a long while since I read it but I remember not really absorbing much of it. MWY is a much gentler way in, covering just her early life and written with a lightness and vivacity.

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    • It must have been amazing to be steeped in all that DDM! I’m not sure I would have sufficiently appreciated Rebecca if I had read it when young but anyway am so glad to have done so now.

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