Takeaway: A haunting and beautiful novel. Shows what can really be done with suspense.
I have been a big fan of the 1940 movie Rebecca by Alfred Hitchcock. It is one of my all time favorite movies. But I had not read the book. It is a very highly rated book written just before the movie in 1938.
The story is that a young woman (who narrates the book, but is never actually named) marries a rich, older widower (Maxim de Winter). He brings her home to his estate where she is continually haunted by the first Mrs de Winter. This not really a ghost story, but rather the story of how the young bride feels compared to the other woman.
It is a psychological thriller. There is no violence, no sex, no bad language, but just a feeling of inferiority and tension that drives the book. The gender roles of the book are dated. And at times I just wanted the 2nd Mrs de Winter (or her husband) to pay attention to what was going on around them. But on the whole it stands up very well after 70 years.
Hitchcock was very true to the story, so if you are familiar with the movie you will be basically familiar with the book. The book and movie have very different endings. I am somewhat mixed about which I prefer. But both play out well and have their own strengths.
Daphine du Maurier had three more short stories or novels adapted into films by Hitchcock, including his classic “The Birds”.
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