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patfrench

Stop Making Sense

I read anything that's nailed down, or even just moving slowly. Cereal boxes, candy wrappers, all genres, etc., and I don't always have much time for arbitrary distinctions like literary fiction vs. genre fiction.

A Classic Psychological Thriller

Rebecca -  Daphne du Maurier, Sally Beauman

This is a deceptively simple story, but it's a classic for a reason. There is so much going on here!

On its face, it's the story of an insecure, inexperienced nameless(!) bride who is swept off her feet and brought to the fancy estate of her new husband, a recent widower. Once there, she finds herself being compared to his first wife, Rebecca, who was by all accounts beautiful, vivacious, fashionable, popular, independent, and a force of nature. Isolated and lacking self-esteem, the new Mrs. de Winter finds herself falling into self-doubt, paranoia, and despair, aided by the gaslighting housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (who adored Rebecca).

I don't want to give away all the twists and turns here, but let's just say that du Maurier has the major plot pivot happen about halfway through the book and STILL has you turning the pages impatiently 'til the end; it's that good.

Perhaps the most brilliant aspect is that she makes you, the reader, complicit in some of the shenanigans. You find yourself rooting for people whom you might otherwise be horrified by, and that takes skill. You also might not realize until much later that there were more victims than you thought (sorry for the vagueness) and fewer heroes. The book also has an opening sentence for the ages, and perfect bookends of opening/closing.

It's not a perfect book--some of the prose can be a bit turgid for today's audiences (that's why I took half a star off). But if you're a fan of Jane Eyre, try this one--it's outstanding.