“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.” Daphne Du Maurer
Today, May 13, is Daphne Du Maurier’s birthday—she was born in 1907. Perhaps best known for her amazing novel, Rebecca, she also penned other well-known novels and short stories that have stood the test of time. Reading Rebecca after seeing the classic movie, was quite an experience. A few thoughts on it that might spark your own muse.
The story begins at the end: The novel begins with several pages of description just dripping with decay. Du Maurer describes Manderley, not in its glory, but in its decline. Naturally as readers, we want to know what happened. Why is Nature encroaching on a place that was once alive with human activity?
Place becomes a character: As we are taken back in time and visit Manderley in its heyday, it quickly becomes clear that it is not just a setting, but also a character in the novel. It seems to live and breathe and have a life on its own, and to affect the people who live there in strange and unexpected ways.
A sense of foreboding creates confusion: From the very beginning of the novel, people begin doing and saying things that seem jarring and disquieting. They seem to be living on the surface of life, while all sorts of emotions roil around just below the surface. This keeps you as the reader, fascinated and engaged. Who are they really? What do they really want? Why aren’t they being honest? As a reader, these are some of the questions you ask yourself. Naturally, you keep on reading.
Everyone has something to hide: As the story unfolds, you realize that everything, even the naive heroine, has something to hide. Nothing is really as it seems. You begin to wonder when the truth will surface, when what’s really happening will be revealed. This keeps you off balance as a reader, which is both enticing and unsettling.
The plot twist at the end is earned: When the story shifts at the end and we see more clearly what’s really going on, we don’t feel cheated. We feel as if the writer earned that ending, because she stopped clues all along the way. And now, as we look back, we see everything in a different light. We see what we didn’t see before. A masterful plotting job, to be sure!
It’s so much fun to read the novels of a masterful writer! There’s so much to admire and to learn. Check out Rebecca—what an amazing, atmospheric novel. Write on!
Please help KWD grow by sharing: https://karinwritesdangerously.com/
Rebecca is one of my favorites. DuMaurier based Manderley on her residence near Fowey. Many years ago my sister and I tramped footpaths in that area until we found the overgrown driveway to “Manderley” Exciting!
How wonderful that you and your sister explored and found the model for Manderley.
What an adventure that must have been! I’ve been to Cornwall and it is truly a magical place, ful of sunshine and shadows.