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06 June 2010 @ 10:37 pm
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

So yes, this was basically Jane Eyre only crap. Bearing in mind that the thing I liked most about Jane Eyre was her LAST NAME, you can imagine just how crap, by comparison, that makes this.

It tells the story of X, or as I like to call her: Xaviette. She doesn't have an actual name, presumably because du Maurier wanted to be EXCELLENTLY ANNOYING AND SUCCEEDED EXCELLENTLY. Xaviette is a 'companion' to a lady called Mrs van Hopper, who shows approximately 123% more vim and pizazz than Xaviette and who should have married Max instead of her. While they holiday in Monte Carlo - or rather Mrs van Hopper holidays, Xaviette wimps around biting her nails and having crap hair, which is about her only active contribution throughout the book - they meet Max de Winter, also holidaying-slash-wimping there. He ends up proposing to Xaviette while filing his nails - seriously! These people are obsessed with their nails! She accepts, which is pretty stupid in my opinion, as she was getting ninety quid off Mrs van Hopper and Max didn't even buy her a wedding dress.

They return to Manderley, Max's ancestral pile. There Xaviette bites her nails approximately every three paragraphs and her hair gets WORSE. She is also terrorised by the housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, who is amusingly described as a 'death’s head' or something. Let us just say that the power of description falls well outside du Maurier's puny reach. If you really like reading about flowers without any descriptive aid as to their appearance or what makes them worth describing, though, this is the book for you!

Max's first wife Rebecca, who was the only one sane enough not to call him 'Maxim', died only a year before in tragic circumstances. It transpires, in a very dull way, that Max actually shot her because she was OMG EVUL. I really wanted to know what were the things she told him on the cliff top, but that would have brought the book into the realm of interesting and we couldn't have that.

Xaviette, as mentioned previously, is a bit stupid in the head because the fact that her new husband turns out to be a murderer is quite delightful to her, compared to the idea that he loved his ex-wife. She is a total loser, what can I say? I also cannot comprehend why they couldn't, you know, PUT OUT THE FIRE in Manderley and REBUILD. Why'd they have to go into exile? Even Jane Eyre got to go back to Thorton or whatever it was called. Thornbirds. Thunderberry. Tara. Drogheda. WTFEVER.

That kind of crying, deep into a pillow, does not happen after we are twenty-one.


Or was it all thrown away, shovelled into dustbins? I would never know, of course, I would never dare to ask.

She is soooooooooooooo lame. It would kill me to even think that much food was wasted, let alone to sit by and let it happen! LOSER LOSER LOSER.

this was the hypersensitive behaviour of a neurotic, not the normal happy self I knew myself to be.


but I should say that kindness and sincerity and - if I may say so - modesty are worth far more to a man, to a husband, than all the wit and beauty in the world.

Except for no. Plus, those are such dull qualities, omg.

"Listen, my sweet. When you were a little girl, were you ever forbidden to read certain books, and did your father put those books under lock and key?"

WHAT IS THIS BOOK. If no one should read it, why'd her dad have it?!

Now that I knew her to have been evil and vicious and rotten I did not hate her any more.

Seems to me these are ideal reasons to start hating someone, not to stop. And while I've hated plenty of people who were nice and accomplished and sweet, I'm ... allowed. Xaviette wasn't set up as that kind of character.

"Rot," said Maxim. "It's not a question of bringing up, as you put it. It's a matter of application.


They had guts, the women of her race. They were not like me.


Previously, on Book Glomp 2010:
The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories, Anton Chekhov | I'll take you there, Joyce Carol Oates | Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides ♥ | The School for Husbands, Moliere | On Green Dolphin Street, Sebastian Faulks | The Famished Road, Ben Okri | Lord of the Flies, William Golding | Moby Dick, Herman Melville A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway | Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell ♥ | The Sea, the Sea, Irish Murdoch ♥ ♥ | Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad | Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy | The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman | The Sea, John Banville | paddy clarke ha ha ha, Roddy Doyle | The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough ♥ | The Godfather, Mario Puzo ♥ | The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman | Possession, A.S. Byatt ♥ ♥ ♥ | Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales | The Mysteries of Pittsburg, Michael Chabon | Dragon Haven, Robin Hobb, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon ♥, Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby, Life of Pi, Yann Martel
Current Music: two princes // spin doctors
Online I'm a Giantparthenia14 on June 6th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
Mmmmm. I loved Rebecca. I should read it again. 'Jane Eyre yet crap.' Yes. No. Sort of.

'Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley.'

*happy sigh*
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: lady in redscoradh on June 7th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
That line annoys me because I still don't understand when you'd use 'dreamed' as opposed to 'dreamt.'

It also annoys me because I can't see what's stopping her going back IRL!
the claw-foot Ladysoftlyforgotten on June 6th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
lololol I read Rebecca when I was thirteen and thought it was the MOST AMAZING BOOK IN THE WHOLE WORLD---

which is to say ahahaha yes.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Kitties: hammockscoradh on June 7th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
It's quite clear to me there's plenty of books I should have read when I was thirteen and more open-minded, as opposed to SVH and Mills and Boons. OOPS?

Also, also - where do you get ideas for which books to read? I take most of mine from yours (I REALLY REALLY want that one about the surly dwarf - the Savage Damsel and the Dwarf, I've it written down here!) and from the Booker list and just a general idea of ~~classics, but you seem to enjoy your books far more than me. I'faith, I enjoy the recs I get off you more than the ones I come up with myself. HOW DO YOU DO IT?
the claw-foot Lady: [dm] from the housetops to thesoftlyforgotten on June 7th, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
Did you go through the Babysitter's Club phase, though? When I was nine, for a whole year they were all I read. It was so sad, I went from Tamora Pierce and Philip Pullman to a year of NEW AND EXCITING BABYSITTING CRISES.

Aha, oh man, my very lame answer is that I'm not entirely sure, uh. I haven't actually made it through my epic pile of to read that people have given me over the past year -- so many of my books are things that I've been given or picked up for cheap in secondhand shops because they looked vaguely interesting or what have you, I don't really have a proper plan except "GET THROUGH THE PILE"? Sorry, most useless. The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf was actually a loan from Jarrah, haha.
JRevalangui on June 6th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
I'm kinda glad you hated this because this review is hilarious XD.

Now that I knew her to have been evil and vicious and rotten I did not hate her any more.

Seems to me these are ideal reasons to start hating someone, not to stop.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: colour explosionscoradh on June 7th, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
I hate with hilarity, what can I say? :P
cleodoxa: Princess and the Peacleodoxa on June 6th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
I think what I got out of it most was the hinted interestingness of Rebecca; not surprising it was named after her. I think the contrast between Rebbecca and the second wife is too extreme and probably part of the reason she ended up without much of a personality. I think partly it's on purpose, because I think even in the present day she and Max are still beaten by the ghost of Rebecca who diminishes them, but no, really, she needs more character to be realistic even as a wimp.

Also I seem to remember Rebecca's cousin being very resentful about of course it'll be hushed up won't it, all your class will gather round to protect you guilty or not, it's corrupt, it's injustice! And you seemed to be supposed to root for the husband when yes, that totally was what was happening.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: revolutionsscoradh on June 7th, 2010 08:29 pm (UTC)
In the end, it must be easier to write an uninteresting character than an interesting one. It's a bit like the pitfall of having a character everyone thinks is TOTALLY HILAR but actually isn't. (Looking at you, Ginny Weasley.) If we knew everything about Rebecca we probably wouldn't be intrigued - well, in du Maurier's hands we definitely wouldn't be. I have no intention of reading Sally Beauman's published fanfic on the topic.

I must admit I rooted for the husband too! I'm such an easy touch for things like that.
R.J.'s Talkback Plebe Radioluciusmalfoy on June 6th, 2010 11:17 pm (UTC)
Oooh I loved this book. But I think the second wife is much more conniving and fucked up that Rebecca ever was. Although she gets to be the narrator and can tell you that really, she's very sweet and just wants Max to love her more, s'all.

Did not like Jane Eyre though.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: blue star handsscoradh on June 7th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
I didn't buy that we were supposed to suddenly believe that Max loved her most all along. Not when he brushed Rebecca's hair like that.

I didn't either, but I can't deny it's the better book of the two.
Filomena: the rabbit doesn't like itaubade_saudade on June 6th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC)
when i finished reading Rebecca i went o.O and then :( and then O_O and then i felt kind of jipped and like i wanted to read the book again but from Rebecca's pov. or even the lesbian maid. that would have rocked.

you know, i couldn't help but think that there was a slight "Twilight" quality to that book. like the nameless dullard was Daphne and she wanted to teach her hubby:

dull wives = you get to live
interesting wives = you get to DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

every Starbucks should have a polar bear: True Blood: sparkle?scoradh on June 7th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
You have your wish! A woman called Sally Beauman wrote a book from Rebecca's POV called 'Rebecca's Tale'. It's legalised by the estate and won some award and everything!

According to the afterword the same Beauman wrote, that's exactly what it was. Xaviette was a total self-insertion. I'm not sure who Rebecca was in du Maurier's life, but I certainly would rather she wrote the book.
Filomena: pinkish kittyaubade_saudade on June 8th, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
omg \o/ :D i'll look it up then. <3

yeah, the "no name" and the -- i don't know how to say this-- like she has all these "flaws" but they are what make her oh-so-attractive to Edward Maxim? it gave the self-insert away.
pir8fancier on June 7th, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
It seems to me that you missed the point. In Jane Eyre you have a woman is competing against a woman who is NO competition. Who is insane and vile and violent and vicious. In Rebecca you have a mild, somewhat shy woman competing against someone who is set up as a PARAGON of beauty, brains, and wit. Jane Eyre was not a story about competing with a dead woman.

Now that I knew her to have been evil and vicious and rotten I did not hate her any more.

PRECISELY. Because the woman she had been competing against had not been this woman. The woman she hated was the paragon. The person she could never best. The persona that Rebecca showed to the world to lord it over and dominate.

These are two completely different novels. I was going to say that the only thing they had in common is the moral dilemman, however, in Jane Eyre this is no moral dilemma. She leaves Rochester when she learns that his wife is still alive and she does not return until the wife is dead. No moral dilemma. In Rebecca, the dowdy wife stays, which I think is far more interesting and delightful. She buys into the crime.

Apples and oranges.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: ra teapot and coloured cupsscoradh on June 7th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
Apparently it was intentionally a Jane Eyre retelling, though? At least according to this Sally Beauman, who seems to be the world expert on all things du Maurier (I bet she gets a lot of competition ... not). And there is the whole poor relation marries into money and the fire at the end. I wouldn't say they are hugely alike. Jane Eyre is a heroine and Xavitte is a wimp; Jane faces down terrible degredations, starvation, practically torture and Xaviette ... doesn't have a very nice servant. Oh cry me a river. And to fall for that trick with the dress was the last word in LAAAAAAAAAAME.

Your interesting is my 'has no balls and just goes where she is lead'. Apples and oranges! :P
Blindmouse: Blues Sistersblindmouse on June 7th, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)
Oh man, this is the best review EVER :D I love when you hate a book I don't care about.

While they holiday in Monte Carlo - or rather Mrs van Hopper holidays, Xaviette wimps around biting her nails and having crap hair, which is about her only active contribution throughout the book - they meet Max de Winter, also holidaying-slash-wimping there.


Actually I read Rebecca so long ago I don't even remember it. But I did read anothe du Maurier, the one with the evil albino? (Or, okay, skimmed it.) (Or, okay, skimmed the abridged version that my housemate gave me when I was sick and wanted something trashy to read.) And oh wow, was it a fucked up and terrible thing. The heroine's happy ending is to go off in a cart with a guy with no money who promises her he's going to end up abusive and will probably abandon her somewhere.

I think you should read it. And then review it :D
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: weddingscoradh on June 7th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
Ooh, have I hated a book you do care about? It can get very personal, can't it. :/

Is that Jamaica Inn? I confess that's the only one I would consider reading again, the reason being I saw it referenced in some other book. (That's the main reason I read anything these days.) Oh, but her writing is so bad, I wouldn't turn to her again except in utter desperation. It isn't even the good kind of trashy, like Mario Puzo or Jacqueline Susann; it's just hysterical and melodramatic.

Duuuuuuuuude, albinos are always evil. Haven't you read Dan Brown?!!
Blindmouse: Alice readingblindmouse on June 7th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
Dude. You hate like, ninety percent of all books ;)

Yes, Jamaica Inn. It was horrifying, uh.
l.m.incandescent on June 7th, 2010 07:58 pm (UTC)
I adore these reviews. So hilarious and true. Fantastique!
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: halowrites: pink heart biscuitsscoradh on June 7th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
For a given value of hilar and true, mais bien sure. :D
Jo: kirara blinkinganimeartistjo on June 10th, 2010 05:25 am (UTC)
I couldn't tell really whether you liked it or not, but I remember this as the Book From Hell in high school. My sophomore year, the teacher allowed small groups to choose their books. One of the girls proffered this and the summary wasn't terrible so I agreed: biggest mistake ever. I never finished the book and to this day, I can't even remember what it was about.

Now that you've pointed out the horrible main character, it makes so much more sense. I grew up reading authors like Anne McCaffrey, Tamora Pierce, and Mercedes Lackey, who all wrote very strong female leads. Rebecca made me want to stab the main character to put her out of her misery.