The Big Read: Rebecca -- Daphne du MaurierChapters 1-3

Chapter One:  In which I discover that the narrator hates weeds and that Daphne du Maurier loves foreshadowing.

Rebecca_2Somehow I suspect that she's not really talking about plants here:

A lilac had mated with a copper beech, and to bind them yet more closely to one another the malevolent ivy, always an enemy to grace, had thrown her tendrils about the pair and made them prisoners.  Ivy held prior place in this lost garden, the long strands crept across the lawns, and soon would encroach upon the house itself.  There was another plant too, some half-breed from the woods, whose seed had been scattered long ago beneath the trees and then forgotten, and now, marching in unison with the ivy, thrust its ugly form like a giant rhubarb towards the soft grass where the daffodils had blown.

I found the last three sentences of this chapter quite foreboding:

We would not talk of Manderley, I would not tell my dream.  For Manderley was ours no longer.  Manderley was no more.

The first more than the other two -- if the narrator is hiding things from her companion, avoiding the subject of Manderley, then it seems clear that she's still not in a Good Place (at least emotionally), no?

Chapter Two:  In which the narrator tells us more about her current situation as well as explaining how a lack of poise and confidence can engender impatience and disrespect in servants.

My concern about the last bit in the previous chapter seems to be justified here:

We were saved a retreat into the past, and I had learnt my lesson.  Read English news, yes, and English sport, politics and pomposity, but in future keep the things that hurt to myself alone.  They can be my secret indulgence.

This is the first glimpse of the famous Mrs. Danvers (as well as the first mention of Rebecca) -- I do wish I hadn't watched those clips from the movie so recently, because I find myself picturing Judith Anderson even though there hasn't been a physical description yet:

She would have looked at me in scorn, smiling that freezing, superior smile of hers, and I can imagine her saying: "There were never any complaints when Mrs. de Winter was alive."  Mrs. Danvers.  I wonder what she is doing now.  She and Favell.  I think it was the expression on her face that gave me my first feeling of unrest.  Instinctively I thought, "She is comparing me to Rebecca"; and sharp as a sword the shadow came between us....

Chapter Three:  In which the narrator tells us about Mrs. Van Hopper and about speaking with Max de Winter for the first time.

I've seen the first line of Rebecca ("Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.") pop up on numerous Favorite First Lines lists, but, me being me, (immaturity unchained, that is), it shouldn't be surprising that the first line of Chapter Three got more of a reaction out of me:

I wonder what my life would be like to-day, if Mrs. Van Hopper had not been a snob.

Mrs. Van Hopper is one of those characters who is wonderful (wonderfully awful) on the page, but who, in person, you would avoid at all costs.  Though she has money and she runs in the "right" circles, she's the epitome of Not Classy.  The woman makes David Brent and Michael Scott look subtle.  Of course, though, she thinks she's tops.  She's hilariously cringe-inducing -- hilarious to me, but cringe-inducing to both the narrator and to Max de Winter.

As this is my first read, and as I have never seen the movie all the way through, I don't know how everything turns out -- but Max de Winter was pretty darned dreamy in that first scene, and then later, when he sent the narrator an apology note.  I really hope he doesn't turn out to be a jerk.*


By the end of this chapter, I was well and truly hooked -- I groaned (aloud, not inwardly) when I turned the page and realized that today's installment was over.

Next up, Chapters 4-6 on Wednesday.  Be sure to let me know if you're reading and posting so that I can link to you.

Other Rebecca reader/bloggers:

Reading with Becky
There's Always Time for a Book
The Leaky Dinghy

*Remember, CC, the first time that I read Brat Farrar?  It's like that.  If we were still roommates, I'd totally be stomping in and out of your room, demanding to know if it ended well and then changing my mind, yelling, "No!  Wait!  Don't tell me!" and running away again, only to restart the cycle two chapters later.  Ah, good times.