Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Like an overgrown bat

Current book: Rebecca
Pages read: 7-167

I actually read these pages in two days, but I completely forgot to post yesterday. I offer you the excuse that instead of posting I made sushi for the first time ever. I was just doing vegetable maki, but it came out pretty much perfect. So that was nice. I also worked out, went to the Asian grocery store for the sushi supplies, made butternut squash and mushroom soup, frosted cupcakes, and went for a walk. Of course, today I worked out, went for a walk, cleaned the apartment, did laundry, and made Boeuf Bourguignon, and I’m still posting. So you guys just sit there in awe of my productivity. Because I said.

The book, to come to the point, is excellent. It’s the story of a young woman (nameless, in that mysterious narrator kind of way) of the middle class who marries a society widower named Maximilian De Winter (referred to as both Max and Maxim). Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife, was drowned in a sailing accident about a year before he meets the narrator. The narrator is only 21 to Maxim’s 46; she’s somewhat unrefined, though sincere and kind, and harbors a great deal of self-doubt as a result of her social status. When she arrives at the great manor house, Manderly, of which she is supposed to become mistress, she finds the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, intimidating and controlling. The shadow of Rebecca is everywhere, and though Maxim has chosen to close the wing of the house in which Rebecca used to spend her time, everything else is still arranged to all of Rebecca’s exact tastes and desires. The narrator, understandably, is preoccupied with thoughts of her husband’s first wife, and slowly learns from Mrs. Danvers, the household staff, and the people of the area that she was beautiful, accomplished, and popular. Maxim never wants to discuss his first wife, and seems likely to freak out about the whole thing at any moment.

It’s quite compelling and suspenseful. The continual descriptions of the blood-red rhododendrons that surround the house and darken many of the windows are, I suppose, less than subtle, but that doesn’t mean they’re not effective. The ominous air about the manor house is further thickened by Mrs. Danvers swooping around startling the narrator whenever she looks into the dark and disused areas of the house. I feel like I have no idea what will happen in the end, but I’m fascinated by the possibilities and the foreboding atmosphere du Maurier’s created with them. We might find out that Maxim killed Rebecca, or at least was somehow partially responsible for her death, or maybe Mrs. Danvers will go mad and try to kill the narrator for trying to replace her beloved former mistress. Or maybe Maxim will have a complete breakdown have to be put in an asylum. Anything could happen.

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