Well, I’ve pored my way through the last hundred pages, the plot thickening as they went. I can’t help but think what a sad story it turned out to be. As the truth unfolds you can to see that each of the characters is caged in one way or another, whether it be by love, hatred, devotion, servitude, duty…everyone in the story seems to suffer from their own variety of entrapment.
I read with mixed feelings, not quite knowing whether or not I wanted the truth to come out, never coming to any definite conclusion about some of the story’s characters. It seems to me that the boundary between good and bad, right and wrong, truth and lie is blurred in this story. I don’t think I’ll ever quite decide who the real ‘baddie’ is. Each one of the characters seems to me to carry light and shade, there is no one to hold up as an example of morality; even the characters who don’t commit crimes themselves and who don’t utter hateful words stand by and knowingly let others do so. Nobody finishes with a clean conscience and nobody emerges unscathed or unscarred.
The story, as I mentioned yesterday, is well written and the plot drives the narrative well. The pace of the novel alters to fit the circumstances and never do we feel that events are passing us by or that the narrative is dwelling too long at any given moment. The characters are well drawn, and as the novel progresses we come to understand them better – their motivations, their nature, their hopes and fears. We never are told the narrator’s name, and I can’t quite make up my mind as to whether she earns the title of heroine. With the novel’s title being afforded to another character and, perhaps because she appears (to me, anyway) so weak, I don’t feel that she quite merits being called a heroine. Elizabeth Bennet, Bridget Jones, Woolf’s Orlando, even – these narrators strike me as heroines…I’m afraid I can’t say the same of the second Mrs de Winter.
That’s not to say, however, that I did not enjoy the book. I enjoyed it immensely. It’s gripping, intriguing, well written and exciting. Do I recommend it to you? Most definitely. Does it merit being held up as one of literature’s classics? Yes, I think it does.
Swiftly on to book number three…a more modern classic this time, The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom.