It is November 11th, known here in the U.S. as Veteran’s Day, formerly Armistice Day to remember the end of WWI but expanded to honor all veterans who have fought for their country, so …
Do you read war stories? Fictional ones? Histories?
This question reminded me about a gaping hole in my reading experience. I have to say, I really haven’t read much, be it fiction or non-fiction, about wars. Of course, I’ve read the occasional book where war makes its influence known. Two novels which come to mind are ‘The Sun Also Rises’ by Ernest Hemingway and ‘Brideshead Revisited’ by Evelyn Waugh. However, these two focus less on combat and more about the after affects of war, how it changes people and the society in which they live. As for non-fiction writing which deals with the topic, I only read it when forced (for university). At the risk of perpetuating the stereotype of female readers, I can’t stand history books, no matter how well written. I need a personal story, something to connect to.
Its long overdue, but here are my thoughts on ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne duMaurier;
First off, here’s the blurb;
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at the immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten…her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant- the sinister Mrs. Danvers- still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca… for the secrets of Manderley.
This blurb makes ‘Rebecca’ seem to be a little melodramatic. It is, but that’s part of its charm. As a lover of gothic fiction, this novel appealed to my love of all things melodramatic. There’s mystery, romance, and thrills.
This book often reminded me of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It takes that book and gives it a modern twist, Rebecca is the ultimate ‘Madwoman in the Attic’. Although her presence in the house is not physical, only mental, she still manages to haunt it. The author effectively creates mood through setting, especially through weather and description of the house and surrounding landscape.
That being said DuMaurier does little to change the attitude of equating female sexuality with evil or madness. The characters are very much stock characters within the genre. The heroine who eventually gains strength and the love of a man through the solving of the central mystery of the plot, the hero who is handsome but who has a tortured soul, the creepy house keeper, and finally the ‘madwoman’ who represents the impurity of a woman who is the opposite of the ‘Angel in the House’.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It would be a great first read for those who had never read any Gothic fiction before, as it’s highly readable and has all the characteristics of the genre.