That’s one of the most famous opening lines in all of literature, the first sentence of book #28, Rebecca, by British author Daphne du Maurier. In fact, that great opening line (so rhythmic, so melodious, so pull-you-in creepy) is on this website’s list of the top 20 opening lines in literature, sandwiched between The Hobbit and 1984. But Rebecca is so much more than just an opening line. It’s deep and mysterious, dark and passionate, a tale of secrets and hauntings. The rich, handsome, and haunted estate of Manderley is as much a character as its owner, the rich, handsome, and haunted Maximillian de Winter. Manderley is filled with the ghost of its former mistress, the perfectly elegant, accomplished, stunningly beautiful Rebecca, a woman beloved by all, admired by all. She’s dead, but her spirit lives on in the house, its beautiful grounds, and, most of all, the memory of the hostile, evil housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. The unnamed second wife, the narrator of the tale, walks timidly into this dark, twisted world, and we walk with her, the tension building as we compulsively turn the pages. I’ve seen the movie many times (Hitchcock did a terrific job translating the spirit of the book into celluloid) but even though I knew every reveal, every surprise, and the ending, I couldn’t put the book down. What a story, what a writer. Read the book, see the movie.
|Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier in Rebecca|
|Judith Anderson as the creepy Mrs. Danvers|