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July 19, 2012 / Leslie

Read-a-long and Audiobook Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du MaurierRebecca
by Daphne du Maurier
Narrated by Anna Massey

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.

One of the read-a-long discussion questions was that

“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.

© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.


Leave a Comment
  1. Mary / Jul 19 2012 2:43 pm

    What a great endorsement of the audiobook! I’ve only experienced Rebecca in movie form and that was years ago. I really need to read one of DuMaurier’s novels.


    • Leslie / Jul 19 2012 3:13 pm

      There are a few different audio versions available but this is the one my library had. The actress doing the narration had a lovely voice.


  2. Suko / Jul 19 2012 3:54 pm

    This sounds like a classic I’d truly enjoy also. Wonderful review! I know that I need to give audiobooks more of a chance! 🙂


  3. BermudaOnion / Jul 19 2012 5:07 pm

    I’d never heard much about this book until I started reading blogs. It sounds like it was groundbreaking – I really need to read it.


  4. Sheila (Book Journey) / Jul 19 2012 6:36 pm

    I need to listen to this on audio as well I guess 🙂


  5. Arti / Jul 20 2012 11:16 am

    Thanks for your review. When I read it I couldn’t help thinking about Jane Eyre. I’m looking forward to the new movie adaptation of Rebecca. As of now, they are still looking for the right cast. Who would you like to see star in it?


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