29 January 2011
Rebecca Readalong: Final Post!
I have been participating in the Rebecca readalong hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey (a great blog that everyone should check out). I am also reading this book for the Gothic Reading Challenge.
Oh, Rebecca, what to say! I'm not going to give a bunch of summary here, because there are lots of chances for spoilers and I honestly would not want to spoil the twists and turns for anyone, since I truly believe that they are the main reason that the book is worth reading...it is fun and suspenseful.
I was pretty harsh in my last post on this book and I'm still not going to add it to my favorites of all time list, but I will say: I'm glad I read it. I ate up the second half of the book, and I don't really think there is a single reader participating in the readalong that didn't finish early. This is because the second half of the book is compelling and unexpected. I had assumptions about what was going to happen at the end of the book and I was wrong. Every new twist and turn surprised me and the book was a labyrinth full of secrets up until the last page.
Terri at Bibliophilia talked about the narrator's identity in her first Rebecca-related post. Her thoughts stuck with me while I read the second half. The narrator in the story is a non-character. She is nameless and has no identity of her own for the first half of the novel (and through much of the second half). She is totally defined by others' impressions, not even of her, but of the previous mistress of Manderley, Rebecca. However, in the second half we learn that Rebecca's identity is also in question. Like at the fancy costume ball that marks the climax of the novel, everyone is wearing some kind of mask and it is only the creepy, skeletal Mrs. Davers who seems to be wearing her mask on the outside. Since the narrator has no identity, nothing to hide, she becomes the pure and innocent at the center, as the rest of the cast begins to reveal their identities around her.
In the end, the book is fascinating and artful, if a little insular for my taste. The whole world of the novel is Manderley, and without a glimpse at the world outside, DuMaurier manages to achieve the claustrophobic and labyrinthine feeling that a Gothic novel requires.