Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rebecca Readalong Part 1: The First 15 Chapters

It's time for our first check-in for the Rebecca Readalong at A Literary Odyssey. This checkpoint examines our reactions to the book after the first 15 chapters.

This is my first time taking on Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca. I've had mixed feelings about it so far. The best thing about it, I think, is the thoughtful and introspective way that the narrator tells the story. There have been some highly insightful observations about life in her musings. Here are two examples:
They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word. To-day, wrapped in the complacent armour of approaching middle age, the infinitesimal pricks of day by day brush one but lightly and are soon forgotten, but then—how a careless word would linger, becoming a fiery stigma, and how a look, a glance over a shoulder, branded themselves as things eternal. (34)
This house sheltered us, we spoke, we loved within those walls. That was yesterday. To-day we pass on, we see it no more, and we are different, changed in some infinitesimal way. We can never be quite the same again. (44)

But I've felt at a few times in my reading that the prose can also be somewhat of a downfall. I felt like the beginning--where the (nameless) narrator describes her dream about Manderley--was wonderfully descriptive at first, but then dragged on and on like it would never end. It was a bit too introspective and descriptive after a while. The other thing that has put me off so far has been the narrator herself. She has a tendency to be overly dramatic and that gets annoying after a while. I know it's all a part of her nature and it says a lot about her personality and her age, but at times (especially when she starts imagining the worst all of the time) it makes me want to reach into the book and shake her into reality. LOL

I will say, however, that in the last few chapters leading up to Chapter 16, I am beginning to see that some of her fears are credible and that the suspense was starting to ratchet up several levels. I've heard that the second half gets quite exciting, and I think I'm starting to see that pick up. Where I wasn't particularly looking forward to the next chapter early on in the book, I am very much looking forward to seeing what comes next now.

**(edited to add)** After reading Allie's post this morning, my memory was jogged about Ben, the mentally handicapped man the narrator met on the beach. Some of the things that Ben has said so far set off alarm bells in my mind. I suspect that Rebecca was not very nice to him, and that it was *she* who threatened to send him to an asylum. I am already starting to think that there is more to Rebecca than the narrator has imagined and been told. I'm looking forward to learning the real story about who Rebecca was, rather than the perfect image that the narrator has created in her mind.


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