The ‘My Favourite…’ series is a platform for me to share some of my favourite books of all time! Today I have selected my favourite gothic novel.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
When Rebecca was on the reading list for book club, everyone seemed so excited to read it that I picked it up without even looking at the blurb. For some reason, possibly the cover design, I assumed it was a nice Jane Austen-esque romance. Oh, the naivety….
Rebecca is dark, disturbing and divisive. It sent shivers down my spine and I couldn’t tear myself away.
7 Reasons Why I Love This Book
1) Opening line
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
With an opening line like this, how could you not be intrigued? I also fell in love with Manderley, the grand, isolated, secretive estate where most of the novel takes place.
2) Plot twists
Whatever you think is going to happen next – it won’t. Rebecca is a masterpiece of intrigue and suspense.
3) Mrs Danvers
Mrs Danvers is regarded by many as one of the most memorable villains of any novel. Such a chillingly portrayed character is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.
4) Ambiguous ending
No spoilers – I promise! The ending is very clever in that it’s left to readers to decide what really happened…
5) Autobiographical elements
I love books where learning more about the author can add another dimension to the story. Rebecca may have been a means for Daphne du Maurier to explore the two irreconcilable aspects of her personality. On one hand, we have the shy, meek Mrs de Winter, whose first name we never learn. On the other end of the spectrum is Rebecca – independent and sexually empowered. The tension between these two opposites is an undercurrent present throughout the novel.
6) Divisive characters
Whether your sympathies lie with the harmless-but-a-bit-pathetic Mrs de Winter or the exciting and dangerous first wife Rebecca, this novel is sure to spark debate. Although everyone I have spoken to agrees on one thing. The husband Maxim is a bit of a cretin. I’ll leave you to make up your own mind on that one.
7) Subversion of convention
When Rebecca was published, it was met with a storm of public attention but never really received critical approval, dismissed as ‘women’s fiction.’ However, that does nothing to take away the resonance of her complex, controversial female characters.
Have you read Rebecca? Is there another gothic novel you would like to suggest? Please do share your opinion in the comments!