Nearly a quarter of the way through now and I’m enjoying the book much more. There’s a real air of mystery about this novel, and not only regarding the house at Manderley and the eponymous Rebecca, but also the book’s central character and narrator whose name we are not told. One has a sense that something dark, and perhaps unpleasant, is going to happen at any moment. You don’t feel as though you can trust your expectations of the novel – something in the writing puts you ill at ease, as though in the next passage something dreadful might occur. The writing itself flows well and with an easy rhythm, Du Maurier uses some lovely turns of expression and displays the workings of her heroine’s mind so honestly that one can’t help understanding, and relating to, her. Although, and this device is clearly deliberate, one always feels a little held at arm’s length, not quite allowed to know the woman whose name is kept from us.
Many readers have compared the story to Jane Eyre and it’s hard not to make the comparison, even at such an early stage in the novel. I have to say, so far, I’m enjoying it far more (I am ashamed to say that Jane Eyre is a novel I tried, and failed, to read when I was a young teenager and have not had the courage to try again since).
Where Rebecca is concerned, suffice to say, I have been drawn in and am eager to keep reading and discover whether my sense of foreboding is justified. As for the formidable Mrs Danvers…already I’m determined not to be scared of her.