My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again....
It's a potboiler, it probably has too much of the teenage flights of fantasy of the young protagonist (I did, after a while, only quickly skim through those), it can be a little ponderous at times, it may be the precursor of a million romantic soap operas. It is also a powerful book. The plot may be unlikely but the characters are 'real'. Of course the dead Rebecca is a very powerful character, the contrast between her and the shy, insecure young second Mrs De Winter and the counterpoint between them drives the book. I see it has been noted that, apart from the second Mrs De Winter being nameless (so much you could make of this), the two main characters are defined by their relationship to a man. Both the way Rebecca is imagined by the young second wife (perfectly beautiful, perfect host, perfect wife) and the way she appears after the final revelations play on what probably still may be male perceptions of what a strong female personality may be like.
There is a hint towards the end of a sort of conflation of the two characters, even though we know the epilogue as it has been set in the beginning of the book and it does not correspond with this. But there is something of this as the young wife matures after the experiences she's had, becomes stronger and learns how to deal with the world.
I had read this book in Spanish translation when I was about 13 years of age. It made an impression on me then but I don't think I could have possibly understood the darker elements of the plot and subtext. I enjoyed this a lot.
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