So this month me and Liam decided upon Rebecca as our book vs film.
As always Liam has reviewed the book and at the bottom I will add the link for my review of the film.
Here is what Liam said about the book:
It took me about a month to get through the first half of this alleged classic. I didn’t care about the soon-to-be Mrs. De Winter, in fact she was a monumental irritation, and if I knew her in real life I would have disdained her about as much as Mrs. Van Hopper. She annoyed me too. The whole thing was just really annoying.
Exposition is obviously crucial to building a layered and compelling narrative, but had the first half been about 100 pages shorter I would have looked upon the latter pages much more fondly. Though I didn’t dislike the second half, I was so relieved to reach bits I enjoyed that I was powering through not because I couldn’t put it down, but because I just wanted to get on with my life.
Rebecca is the story of a young girl from a poor background who marries into a wealthy family. It is fundamentally a story about change, about class, and the dangers of traversing these strict boundaries. The protagonist is never named by Du Maurier, only referred to as Mrs. De Winter, which effectively establishes her inferiority within the story, and provides a strong juxtaposition to Rebecca, who is always addressed by first name. We are not supposed to know her first name, because we don’t need to. Her personal details are ultimately unimportant, both to us and the other characters.
Du Maurier also succeeds emphatically in writing a dead antagonist in Rebecca. Even though she is brought to life sporadically through flashbacks, her impact is mainly an emotional one – those who still grieve for her, and those who still live in her shadow. But the main character in the story is Manderley.
The grand estate is imbued with a life of its own. To Mrs. De Winter it is a prison, while to Mrs. Danvers it’s a shrine. Manderley is the problem and the solution, the sanctuary and the stage. Manderley is more than a backdrop, it is emotionally and historically entwined to the events in the story, and is as much a character as anyone.
But the turning point, for me at least, was the fancy dress ball. It’s just a shame it was over 200 pages in, so if you do start reading I urge you to persevere – it does get better! And once you finish I think you’ll agree it has Hitchcock written all over it, and I haven’t even seen the film yet. But if anyone is interested in remaking it (which you really should stop doing, so please don’t), I recommend Kathy Bates for Mrs. Danvers.
Here is the link to my review of the film: