This is not Rebecca. This book is Mrs. de Winter.
Written with dreary depressive disposition, Daphne du Maurier is the character’s spirit. She is non-existent in these pages, having no person. She is Mrs. de Winter by name. She is not herself, yet is contented in her role as matron of these grounds, (p. 7), « I am a mine of information on the English countryside. » She commits, « I breathe the air of England as I read, and can face this glittering sky with greater courage. » She writes with depth, density of words and rich, fertile qualities, as if the words are loam. The imagination chills…
She is strong in faith, she writes of Christian values being not of moral but familial. We commit, and as women we are there as family decides: marriage, faith, family, in that order. She is the strength of God’s commitment through bonds of sacrament, (p. 9), « I suppose it is his dependence upon me that has made me bold at last… « . She regards frailty of commitment with compassion, (p, 276), « I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continued to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth. » Her writing is heartfelt, her attitudes refined.
With every reading of this novel, I feel that Mrs. du Maurier Browning would be one to sit with, she would be a friend. She has much to say, and elegance in her delivery. Not simply its ‘writer,’ she pours her life into her work. Her thoughts are written with philosophical sophistication, « Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind… « , (p. 6). She then continues storyline, plot, and thesis in artful suspense, flawless and faultless in expression. She writes with ease, it reads with fluency. She guides the gentle reader.
It’s no wonder Rebecca is highly acclaimed. This book is rich with earthy mystery, (p. 111), « … and a richer, older scent as well, the smell of deep moss and bitter earth, the stems of bracken, and the twisted roots of trees. » These words are a novel, a mystery, a story, a film, they are easily seen.
Symbolism, she writes in rooted assurance:
- walls of red rhododendron proclaiming afterlife (they are larger than the lives around them, they die, they are renewed)
- bowls of autumn roses seek wakeful cognizance (they are ‘as if’ this life was mine)
Her messages are spooky in their obvious conviction. Her writing is not a question of talent. She has that, and her writing is a fact of her life. What else can she do?
This one is not to be shelved. Read it again if it’s escaped you.