Had it not been for my insatiable interest in the uncommon, the Gothic and the antiquated (as found in Jamaica Inn), I would have dismissed Rebecca without trial. I found its literary predecessor Jane Eyre unrewarding and as a rule, find plot-lines hitched on ‘other women’ devices’ uninspiring.
But this isn’t a dissection of my literary palate, it’s a request for membership to the Daphne Du Maurier fanclub, (and a celebration of sleep depriving work). The author’s knack for dragging characters like Mrs Danvers into 21st heads is why I read Rebecca in 48 hours. Prose of the kind used in Jamaica Inn explains why I overlooked the romance’s blurb.
And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same. Jamaica Inn
Mary was no hypocrite; she was bred to the soil, and she had lived too long with birds and beasts, had watched them mate. and bear their young, and die. There was precious little romance in nature, and she would not look for it in her own life. Jamaica Inn
I was rewarded for overstepping my literary borders with the freedom to roam through Du Maurier’s heroine’s lovesick head. Although I couldn’t relate to the pointedly nameless and submissive character, the depiction of her bought of love is displayed so vividly that even the most confident tinder user can’t help but sympathise.
He had not said anything yet about being in love. No time perhaps. It was all so hurried at the breakfast table. Marmalade, and coffee, and that tangerine. No time. The tangerine was very bitter. No, he had not said anything about being in love.
Not only did the writer’s characters and narrative style allow me to enjoy Rebecca, the skill with which Du Maurier manipulates her reader through plot twists, saw a 21st century feminist rooting for a wife stifling chauvinist. I’ve never agreed with the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ idiom (where books are concerned), never judge a book by its genre however, was a rule I left Rebecca constemplating.