Publication Date: August 1938
Publisher: Victor Gollancz
My partner bought me a beautiful edition of Rebecca on a trip to Bath for my birthday a couple years ago and its been sitting pretty on my shelf til LadiesOfHorrorFiction.com announced their November read along last year.
Having never participated in one before I hadn’t realised read alongs are typically spread over a period of time making it achievable for any schedule. This didn’t work for me. I can’t read more than one book at once and I couldn’t spend an entire month on just the one so I read it all at once and somehow managed to miss all of the discussions.
BUT atleast I finally read it! Thanks to LOHF.
Now here’s what I thought..
Whilst Rebecca is marketed as Gothic fiction/ Crime/ Mystery/ Romance, I find it is most often spoken of as a horror on social media. So I headed into this book hoping for exactly that.
So where’s the horror?
Here’s the definition according to Wiki- “Horror is a genre of speculative fiction which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers or viewers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. “
All I really got from Rebecca was a slightly unsettling atmosphere and constant irritation. I wanted to slap sense into the narrator.
I was continuously switching between pity, sympathy and frustration.
Mrs Danvers was a vile character, very well written. If anything she was the most haunting of them all. I kept hoping she wasn’t lurking nearby, ready to belittle and embarrass the narrator at every available opportunity. Whenever she did I’d pity her, the poor naive lamb. At the same time though there has to be a breaking point and it just never seemed to come -there’s being meek and mild and there’s just downright pathetic. Unfortunately I felt the latter most often.
As for Rebecca herself, she turned my stomach. There truly are women out there like this character and that makes me ashamed of our gender. Yes she was strong, independent and elegant, but the poisonous attitude beneath it made me cringe.
Maxim himself didn’t leave much of an impression on me at all, I felt he was cold and selfish. I did feel a little sympathy for him and almost a smidge of respect after the true ending of his previous marriage was revealed. The closest I came to liking or agreeing with any characters was Frank Crawley, solely for the way he behaved around the narrator, but overall he was a disappointment.
I struggle to enjoy books without at least one moderately likeable character or a glimmer of hope. I thought Rebecca was a dark and desperate tale, the prose is beautifully written but that wasn’t enough for me.