“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again…”
The world’s best book is called ‘Rebecca’. It is written originally in French and then later translated into a considerable number of languages including English because of the incredible amount of talent it possesses. Most readers read the English translation and they are still indefinitely mesmerized by how excellently the writer has woven this exquisite tale of love, mystery, hatred, depth and revenge.
Writing of the author, her name is Daphne Du Maurier. She was born in 1907. Her father, Sir Gerald du Maurier was a famous actor and theatre manager-producer. After being educated at home with her sisters, and then in Paris, she began her personal journey of writing stories and articles. In 1931, her first novel, ‘The Loving Spirit’ was published. Her reputation was established with the biography she wrote about her father, Gerald: A Portrait and Jamaica Inn. ‘Rebecca’ came out in 1938 and Daphne Du Maurier found herself one of the most deserving and popular authors of her generation. Amenably, her family home in Cornwall, provided the inspiration for some of her most successful novels, including ‘Rebecca’. Among the writer’s best known novels are Frenchman’s Creek, Hungry Hill, The King’s General, My Cousin Rachael and The Birds. Apart from novels, Daphne Du Maurier has also written plays, short stories and non-fiction works. All her stories are full of beauty and are unbelievable in their own way…
The book is so good that it was also made into a Hollywood movie of the same title and a Bollywood movie with the specific tag ‘Kohra’. The Abridged English Edition of this book is not extremely long. It is less than 150 pages and most experienced readers can manage to complete reading the entire novel in a single setting. This particular edition is published by ‘Madhuban Supplementary Readers and the font is basic, understandable, black inked and pretty good in general. The pictorial depictions in this book is not something absolutely mind-blowing of course…but they do well to signify the essence and the intensity with which the paragraphs have been so intelligently thought of and then put into skilful words. It is also adapted and designed to suit young readers, who have just begun on their beautiful journey of reading powerful, influencing tales. It has been translated into a very structured supplementary reading which includes simple language, graded vocabulary and even a few questions and comprehension exercises at the back of the book. It is pretty ideal for classroom reading, libraries or a personal collection. The cover of the book is imbedded in rich chrome yellow. The back of the cover has a clear and classy introduction to this book which will definitely leave the readers enthralled. The front cover depicts the painting of the house ‘Manderly’ where most of the story takes place in. Frankly, this specific book costs only Rs. 98/- so it is infinitely inexpensive, for sure.
The book revolves around three main characters. Their names are Max de Winter, Mrs. de Winter and Mrs. Danvers. Max de Winter is generally a mysterious and secretive man and for good reason too, as found in the middle of the story. At the beginning of the story, his personality is very difficult to understand or even relate to, because he is partially in grief because of the death of his beloved bride Rebecca who takes over the title of the story. That is, because even though she is not IN the story (because she’s already dead) her present is present out there in Manderly in the minds and the hearts of the characters and the way they speak and think about her, it almost seems as if she maintained one of the most exotic and delicious personalities in the world, and she is loved by all. When Max de Winter made her his bride, he was particularly termed to be the ‘happiest man on earth’. He barely talks except to say all sorts of profound statements which he apparently has gathered by sheer experience or when its desperately necessary, Rarely anything manages to greatly surprise him Mrs. de Winter is the main protagonist and also the narrator of the story. She is meek, demure and modest at the start of the tale. Actually, the story begins in a hotel room where she wakes up and thinks about it to be so much sunnier and different than the deep Manderly where she came from. She couldn’t stop dreaming about becoming a fairy and going opening the gates of the beautifully exquisite house again and re-living then. It is then when she understands and accepts that in order to come to terms with the past, she would have to re-live it. Thus, she begins fruitfully narrating her story in her perception. She is a lonely maiden without any family and works as an attendant to a woman who looks like a pig and only plays poker. Mrs de Winter meets Max one day and she begins spending time with him. Eventually, they fall in love with each other, get married and move to Manderly. Mrs. Danvers is the main maid of Manderly and the antagonist of the book. She keeps taunting the gentle Mrs de Winter about how much better Rebecca was than her, and pins down a certain insecurity in the depths of her soul. Mrs. Danvers almost led her to commit suicide by making her feel extremely unworthy of herself. Later though…the book takes a major turn and it is revealed that Rebecca was really not as perfect as everyone made her out to be and the new Mrs. de Winter is a much better person than she ever was.
The story of Rebecca has a dark and suspicious aspect to it. It keeps the readers on the edge of their seat due to its alluring terms and the over-engaging plot which doesn’t stop twisting and turning till the very end. The best part of the book is the narrator’s constant character development. She starts off as clumsy and unconfident but by the last chapter…her sense of independence and accepting herself gracefully the way she was…is actually unbelievable and very joyful at the same time. Overall, ‘Rebecca’ is the world’s best book and if you haven’t read it, you are missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures for sure!
By Shrija Mukherjee