Read-a-long and Audiobook Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Genre: Gothic, Classic
Publisher: BBC Audio
Publish Date: Audio 2008 | Original publication 1938
Format: Audio: Approx 14 hours, 12 CDs
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate
Rating: 5 of 5
I’d always intended to read Rebecca someday, and when Sheila at BookJourney announced a read-a-long, I decided this was as good a time as any. I already have enough print books to keep me busy well into autumn, so I chose to go with the audiobook.
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”
That famous first line of the novel is pretty much the extent of what I knew about the novel. Seriously. I knew it was a gothic, and that it was a classic and was also made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock. What I didn’t know was how chillingly creepy and haunting it would turn out to be. It was 14 hours of long and I found myself grabbing the mp3 player even if I only had a few minutes to listen. That’s when I know a book gets five stars!
The story is told in retrospect by an unnamed narrator. While working in Monte Carlo as a companion to an American woman she meets Maxim de Winter, a wealthy Englishman whose beautiful wife, Rebecca, recently died in a boating accident. After a whirlwind courtship she marries Maxim and returns with him to his estate, Manderley. The presence of Rebecca is everywhere in the mansion. The new Mrs. de Winter feels out-of-place and resented by the staff who adored Rebecca. After a series of incidences she began to feel that Max regretted his impulsive decision to marry her. When a storm causes a shipwreck on the shore of the estate, a grisly discovery is made by the rescue divers, many questions arise, and nothing adds up.
I listened to the BBC Audio production narrated by Anna Massey. Her smooth British voice was a pleasure to listen to and made me feel as if I was visiting an estate in England. The cast of characters were portrayed with emotion and enough change in style that I could easily tell them apart.
“Du Maurier admitted that her heroine has no name because she could never think of an appropriate one”
At one point the narrator mentions that her name is spelled wrong on some correspondence, and that’s when I realized I didn’t know her name. Since I was listening to the audio I couldn’t flip back to look it up. It wasn’t until later that I realized she didn’t have a name. It was one of those little things that added to the mystery even though the author had said it was not intentional.
There are a lot of little hints and clues left for the reader/listener along the way and a few questions that are never answered. The reader is left to fill-in-the blanks and come up with their own conclusion. I liked the ending, and I feel I know what happened, but it is open to interpretation. I can’t help but feel the book might seem a little different if read again with some prior knowledge. I admit I was shocked with the ‘twist’ in the story was revealed; I did not see it coming.
Overall a wonderful classic that shouldn’t be missed. The BBC Audio production was excellent and as good a choice as reading the book itself. There is an excellent discussion post at BookJourney and all are invited to participate.
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