A story about this — 4 years ago
I struggled for a long time to figure out if I thought this was both a) worth reading, and b) enjoyable. The book on a superficial level, if one gives no thought to the deeper implications, is quite enjoyable. It starts out as a fairly typical romantic novel and out of nowhere twists into a murder mystery. More than that, though, it pretends to explore Rebecca’s psyche.
Rebecca is a shadowy subject here, never present beyond the memories of those in her life and the projected fears of the heroine. Just exploring her image gets me excited – narrator reliability check! Goody! – but there’s a more sinister twist to a modern reader. The heroine falls fully into her husband’s camp at the point of the twist (don’t read a synopsis, just read the book and see what happens so you can get the full effect), and via her narration, the reader must be drawn into their perspective as well. Yet theirs is a morally abject perspective (reorient the story from a domestic violence victim’s perspective if you don’t see what I mean right away); and yet I could not help rooting for them, and mourning their loss of Manderly. This is why I struggled. The book drew me to the opposite feeling and conclusion I would have drawn if the facts of Rebecca’s life were laid before me independently.
I interacted with the reading; I struggled, tested, and questioned it. It made me think about the way I see the world. This is literature at its best.