Rebecca Read-A-Long (Party With Rebecca Party!!!)

Welcome to the “Party With Rebecca” Party…. “SSSQQQQUUUEEE!”  Thank you to everyone who joined me on this adventure of reading Rebecca.  This was my first time through this book!

Here is how todays party will work:

For those of you who link your reviews and thoughts today and tomorrow you will receive one entry to win, the link to add your posts is below where it says click here.  Participating in the discussion (if you read and reviewed the book or not)will earn you one extra entry per relevant comment.

Since this is a party… we have some fun party gifts– if you link your review that gives you one entry… for participating in the discussion questions you will get a second entry.


Whats up for the giveaway?

Written by the author of Rebecca

DVD of Rebecca

Here are some bookish thoughts to get our discussion rolling…

1. Du Maurier admitted that her heroine has no name because she could never think of an appropriate one—which in itself is a telling comment. What effect does it have on the novel that the new Mrs. De Winters has no first name?

2. What kind of character is our heroine—as she presents herself at the beginning of her flashback? Describe her and her companion, Mrs. Hopper.

3. What kind of character is Maxim de Winter, and why does a man of his stature fall in love with the young heroine? What draws him to her?

4. The heroine describes Maxim thus: “His face…was arresting, sensitive, medieval in some strange inexplicable way…rob him of his English tweeds, and put him in black, with lace at his throat and wrists, he would stare down at us in our new world from a long distant past—a past where men walked cloaked at night, and stood in the shadow of old doorways, a past of narrow stairways and dim dungeons, a past of whispers in the dark, of shimmering rapier blades, of silent, exquisite courtesy.” Why is this an apt description? In other words, how does it set the tone and foretell the events of the novel?

5. In what way does the relationship between the young heroine and Maxim change during the months after their arrival to Manderley?

6. What role does Mrs. Danvers play in this story—in her relationships to the characters (dead and alive) and also in relation to the suspense within the novel?

7. What is the heroine led to believe about Rebecca? In what way does the dead woman exert power over Manderley? At this point, what are your feelings about the new Ms. de Winter? Are you sympathetic toward her plight…or impatient with her lack of assertion? Or are you confused and frightened along with her?

8. What is the heroine’s relationship with Maxim’s sister Beatrice and her husband Giles? What about the advice Beatrice offers the heroine? ?

9. Both Beatrice and Frank Crawley talk to the heroine about Rebecca. Beatrice tells the heroine, “you are so very different from Rebecca.” Frank Crawley says that “kindliness, and sincerity, and…modesty…are worth far more to a man, to a husband, than all the wit and beatufy in the world.” What are both characters trying to convey to the heroine…and how does she interpret their words?

10. What are some of the other clues about Rebecca’s true nature that the author carefully plants along the way?

11. How might the costume ball—and the heroine’s appearance in Rebecca’s gown—stand as a symbol for young Mrs. de Winter’s situation at Manderley?

12. Were you suprised by the twist the plot takes when Rebecca’s body is found…and when Maxim finally tells the truth about his and Rebecca’s marriage? Did the strange details of plot fall into place for you?

13. How, if at all, do Maxim’s revelations change your attitude toward him? Did you feel relief upon first reading his confessions? Can you sympathize with his predicament, or do you censure his actions? What do you think of the heroine’s reaction? In her place, how might you have reacted?

14. How does this new knowledge alter the heroine’s behavior and her sense of herself?

15. After Favell threatens to blackmail him, Maxim calls on Colonel Julyan. Why? Why does Maxim act in a way that seems opposed to his own best interests?

16. In the end, what really happened to Rebecca? What is the full story of her death? Is it right that Maxim is absolved of any crime? Was he caught in an untenable position? Was Rebecca simply too evil—did she end up getting what she deserved?

17. How do you view the destruction of Manderley? Is it horrific…or freeing…or justified vengeance on Rebecca’s part? Would the De Winters have had a fulfilling life at Manderley had it not burned?

18. Now return to the beginning of the book. How would you put into words, or explain, the sense of loss and exile that permeates tone of the opening? (You might think about a spiritual as well as physical exile.)

 

(in the comments – you may answer as many or as few as the questions you like as well as add your own questions to the discussion.)

Here is where you can link up your Rebecca Reviews:

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About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Want To Be Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on July 18, 2012, in Book Stuff and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 106 Comments.

  1. 16: I really don’t think any of these questions were meant to be answered. That’s part of the reason I enjoyed the book so much. It left huge plot holes for the reader to fill in themselves.

  2. 1. Du Maurier admitted that her heroine has no name because she could never think of an appropriate one—which in itself is a telling comment. What effect does it have on the novel that the new Mrs. De Winters has no first name?
    Funny enough, it took me a while to realize she did not have a name; at one point, I read back to see if I had missed it, when I realized she was not Rebecca!! Not giving her a name contributes to highlighting her lack of assertion: if you read the book without any introduction, you may assume that she’s called Rebecca, and you discover she has no name, no personality – at least at the beginning.
    It interestingly puts the focus on a dead person, and makes the whole story revolve around Rebecca, as a haunting presence.

  3. 2. What kind of character is our heroine—as she presents herself at the beginning of her flashback? Describe her and her companion, Mrs. Hopper.
    Too shy, and passive, too used to live in the shadow of a demanding boss, or later of a haunting presence. She sounds more like a very young kid than a young lady, with actually no real character, no will or mind of her own.
    Mrs. Hopper uses the situation by having her do whatever she wants at any time. She knows she will be obeyed unconditionally

    • Because the heroine seems so boring and won’t stand up for herself at all even to someone who is not really a threat like her companion. I did kind of have a hard time seeing what Max saw in the heroine at first as being a doormat is not all that attractive to many!

    • I wonder if some of these attributes come less from the narrator’s inherent personality and more from her youth and inexperience, as well as her lower class and social status. She seems more self-assured in the exile sections (and even more so in the afterword written years later by DuMaurier). Whenever I read about her discomfort over giving orders and her tendency to defer to Mrs. Danvers and Mrs. Van Hopper, I could relate because I too come from a class that doesn’t deal with servants. Even though I’m far more outgoing and confident (and older) than the narrator, I could still get where she was coming from as an incompetent Lady of the House.

    • I wonder if some of these attributes come less from the narrator\’s inherent personality and more from her youth and inexperience, as well as her lower class and social status. She seems more self-assured in the exile sections (and even more so in the afterword written years later by DuMaurier). Whenever I read about her discomfort over giving orders and her tendency to defer to Mrs. Danvers and Mrs. Van Hopper, I could relate because I too come from a class that doesn\’t deal with servants. Even though I\’m far more outgoing and confident (and older) than the narrator, I could still get where she was coming from as an incompetent Lady of the House.

      (aaaand, this is my second time trying to post this comment, so sorry if it shows up twice!)

      • I would struggle to giving others directions/orders. Sorry about the comment thing… gah! I will kick it. :D

      • That is definitely a possibility. She goes from someone who must take orders to someone who is expected to know how to give orders. I definitely don’t think that Mrs. Van Hooper would take it if the heroine said no to her whims. On the other hand, Mrs. Danvers seems to take pleasure in the heroine not giving orders or not knowing how to give orders. I think that might be because Mrs. Danvers realizes that the heroine probably doesn’t come from the kind of background where one has servants and that the heroine may be way out of her element. Mrs. Danvers seems to take pleasure in making people feel awkward.

    • I thought that was an interesting take on the read – she really was one dimensional at the start and you can almost picture her as colorless…

      • I thought she was more naive and innocent, more than being a doormat. I think It has more to do with how she was raised and her status in life. I think if she was that much of a doormouse she would never have behaved in the way she did; talking with Maxim to begin with, going on car drives with him, or even having the gumption to even allow herself to feel the way she ended up feeling for him.

  4. 1. Du Maurier admitted that her heroine has no name because she could never think of an appropriate one—which in itself is a telling comment. What effect does it have on the novel that the new Mrs. De Winters has no first name?

    In a way, I guess this made me feel a lot worse for the heroine. She was sort of dull in the beginning. She’s doesn’t seem to do a lot besides worrying about being a good companion to Mrs. Van Hooper, who almost seems to take advantage of the heroine’s company. On one hand, you have a sort of boring young woman and then you have a vibrant Rebecca that everyone who meets the heroine seems to be comparing her to.

    I think that not giving the heroine a name also lended the idea that she’s sort of the “everywoman.” Who in their lifetime has not been compared to someone that they perceive to be better than them in some way like Rebecca is to the heroine? I think that’s something that most all of us can identify with.

    • Meg I like hw you said “every woman”. True – I feel she felt that she was (and in a way it was true) in Rebecca’s shadow. How can you complete with someone not really there?

  5. Here’s a funny story about your no. 17:
    I read the last page of the book very quickly, almost skimming it and thinking “They drove back to Manderley, the sun was coming up, yadda yadda The End.” I totally missed the ashes blowing in the wind bit! I didn’t realize Manderley had burned until the next night when we talked about it in book group! Ha! Sort of a big thing to miss! :)
    But yes, I think it’s a great ending. Really, in order for everything to come full circle, the estate had to be destroyed. All the servants still revered Rebecca’s memory, and Mr and the new Mrs De Winter couldn’t have moved on full without actually, physically, moving on. Imho.

  6. 3. What kind of character is Maxim de Winter, and why does a man of his stature fall in love with the young heroine? What draws him to her?
    I had a hard time with pinpointing who this man was. Even in his first moments with his future 2nd wife, he seemed very aloof, distant. He looked more like a father figure than a possible lover. He seemed to me like a man trapped in his own social milieu. And actually, maybe he shared the young lady shyness, in the sense that he was not able to assert who he was and break from his social milieu, in which I am not sure he was that comfortable. But maybe I am projecting too much!!
    I guess only very late in the book do we realize why he fell in love: I think he really enjoyed the freshness, simplicity of this lady.

    • I wondered throughout the book if he was looking for someone less like Rebecca…. more of a comfort and that seemed to fit in the end.

    • I definitely think that Max was looking for someone who was completely unlike Rebecca. Because we don’t know how Rebecca was in the beginning of the story, it’s hard to see what Max loves in the heroine. She’s a nice girl but as I’ve said before, she’s kind of a doormat. She grew on me through the story and we eventually find out that she is everything that Rebecca is not and then it’s pretty easy to see what that initial attraction was.

  7. 4. The heroine describes Maxim thus: “His face…was arresting, sensitive, medieval in some strange inexplicable way…rob him of his English tweeds, and put him in black, with lace at his throat and wrists, he would stare down at us in our new world from a long distant past—a past where men walked cloaked at night, and stood in the shadow of old doorways, a past of narrow stairways and dim dungeons, a past of whispers in the dark, of shimmering rapier blades, of silent, exquisite courtesy.” Why is this an apt description? In other words, how does it set the tone and foretell the events of the novel?
    This is such a neat description, setting the Gothic tone of the novel, with ideas of oldness [medieval], mystery [strange, inexplicable,narrow stairways, silent], gloom [black, night, shadow, dim dungeons, dark], memory/present reality [he would stare down at us in our new world from a long distant past]; he also shows the social milieu, with the tweeds and lace.
    This black and white reality is all there will be of the burnt Manderley.
    And the word THROAT might even hint at the big upcoming revelation!

  8. 5. In what way does the relationship between the young heroine and Maxim change during the months after their arrival to Manderley?
    Is there still a relationships then between them? She seems to be more part of the decor!

  9. 6. What role does Mrs. Danvers play in this story—in her relationships to the characters (dead and alive) and also in relation to the suspense within the novel?
    She is very instrumental in having the reader stay focused on Rebecca, and on creating the Gothic ambiance, with maintaining gloomy mysterious rooms that are hardly ever opened, for instance. She is also scary when talking with Rebecca, and totally mean (see the scene of the costume ball. She appears like the living double character of Rebecca. And finally she is the key element in the final fate of Manderley.

  10. 7. What is the heroine led to believe about Rebecca? In what way does the dead woman exert power over Manderley? At this point, what are your feelings about the new Ms. de Winter? Are you sympathetic toward her plight…or impatient with her lack of assertion? Or are you confused and frightened along with her?
    The heroine is led to see Rebecca has a person with a special aura, from a very fancy milieu, with high tastes, and extremely beautiful, so like her total opposite in life. I had sympathy for her, but at the same time wanted to kick her to change Manderley with things that SHE liked, to make it HER own world, not the world of another person, dead at that!

    • I can imagine how the heroine felt – it was after all, Rebecca’s home… and it was inpossible to fill her shoes the same as it was.

    • I also felt that I wanted to kick the heroine when she first gets to Mandeley. I realize that she’s young and not used to giving orders but fake it ’til you make it or something. Right off the bat, it’s apparent that the servants, particularly our friend Mrs. Danvers, are going to walk all over her. I don’t think it would have taken much for the heroine to show a little backbone!

  11. 11. How might the costume ball—and the heroine’s appearance in Rebecca’s gown—stand as a symbol for young Mrs. de Winter’s situation at Manderley?
    She has not found ways to be herself, she is not even able to choose a facade [costume], she cannot even invent her own ways of enjoying a party – she does as she is told to do, once again – just like with her former boss. And she is so naive that she did not figure out that Mrs. Danvers’s idea could absolutely NOT be a good thing for her to follow.

  12. 12. Were you surprised by the twist the plot takes when Rebecca’s body is found…and when Maxim finally tells the truth about his and Rebecca’s marriage? Did the strange details of plot fall into place for you?
    I have to admit I was not expecting that at all. It then explained better his aloofness and problems with his dark memories of the past. Before, I thought this was only due to his regret of having lost his wife through suicide.

  13. 13. How, if at all, do Maxim’s revelations change your attitude toward him? Did you feel relief upon first reading his confessions? Can you sympathize with his predicament, or do you censure his actions? What do you think of the heroine’s reaction? In her place, how might you have reacted?
    He suddenly became so much more human. I would have expected to tell his 2nd wife the truth much earlier on. From then on, her reaction is more and more loving and supporting. She sounds less passive to me, finally free to be more herself.

    • While I think killing Rebecca might have been a little extreme, I thought that at that point in the story, Max did become a lot more real. I also appreciated that the heroine realizes that Rebecca wasn’t the sort of person that you should want to live up to. I agree, she definitely seemed to be more free to be herself.

    • I really detested Maxim for most of the book. I hated the way he treated the narrator- consistently moody, aloof, condescending, even mean. I wanted him to get a feminist comeuppance, and I didn’t really buy his sudden transformation into a nice husband after he gets his secret off his chest.
      The narrator’s reaction makes sense given the nature of her character and her struggle to feel loved. I was surprised that she didn’t even have a hint of a “woah, my husband is a murderer” moment. But yes, it was interesting and realistic how knowing the truth freed her.

  14. 15. After Favell threatens to blackmail him, Maxim calls on Colonel Julyan. Why? Why does Maxim act in a way that seems opposed to his own best interests?
    I guess he is so torn by his feeling of guilt that he does actually wants justice to be done. But then, roles seem to be reversed: his new wife becomes more active in trying to protect him, and he is very passive, following along.

  15. 17. How do you view the destruction of Manderley? Is it horrific…or freeing…or justified vengeance on Rebecca’s part? Would the De Winters have had a fulfilling life at Manderley had it not burned?
    I see it as an opportunity of freedom, a chance to restart all over again for the new couple, but the fact they live in a hotel does not seem to show that they fully seized that opportunity. And also, the book opens with her dream, so she still seems to be haunted by it, not yet free!

  16. Thanks for all the questions! I had some difficulties with some of them, mainly because I no longer have the book to revisit some things (library book), but I found most of them terrific, and am looking forward to input from other readers to interact a bit more.
    And oh, thanks for the giveaways!

  17. I loved this book more than I could ever say. I read it for the first time last year, and while I didn’t participate this time around I wanted to come by and see what others thought of what they read.

  18. 1. Du Maurier admitted that her heroine has no name because she could never think of an appropriate one—which in itself is a telling comment. What effect does it have on the novel that the new Mrs. De Winters has no first name?

    For me it made the book a little more personal. It made me feel as if I was siting in a library, with a roaring fire and I’m listening to old friends tell me about a past I never knew about. It had that feel of confession for me. I think it allowed me to sympathize with our heroine a bit easier.

    3. What kind of character is Maxim de Winter, and why does a man of his stature fall in love with the young heroine? What draws him to her?

    I think it was her innocence and her lack of guile that allowed Maxim to fall for her. After being married to a raging bitch that you couldn’t trust, wouldn’t you want the exact opposite of her.

    6. What role does Mrs. Danvers play in this story—in her relationships to the characters (dead and alive) and also in relation to the suspense within the novel?

    Part of the reason I wanted to read this book so much was because of everything I heard about Mrs. Danvers. And I’ll admit to being a bit dissapointed at first. While she seemed like a hard character to like, she really didn’t come across as evil right away. It was when she finally showed her true colors to our heroine in Rebecca’s old bedroom that I finally saw what everyone else saw in her. I think without her, there would not have been the oppresive atmosphere that hung over the entire book. She dictated the way our heroine reacted and felt about everything going on around her. She is truly one of the greates evil characters to ever be invented.

    9. Both Beatrice and Frank Crawley talk to the heroine about Rebecca. Beatrice tells the heroine, “you are so very different from Rebecca.” Frank Crawley says that “kindliness, and sincerity, and…modesty…are worth far more to a man, to a husband, than all the wit and beatufy in the world.” What are both characters trying to convey to the heroine…and how does she interpret their words?

    They are trying to relieve her fears about trying to live up to this supposed paragon of womanhood. They knew the truth but didn’t feel as if it was their place to tell it. She took it the wrong way though. I think it more her lack of experience more than anything else that allowed her to develop the complex that Mrs. Danvers was all too willing to feed.

    As far as the rest of the quesitons go, I do think Rebecca deserved everything she got. I do think Maxim and our heroine deserved the happiness they were able to find in the end. And my heart broke at the burning of Manderley.

  19. Well put as usual Ryan! :D

  20. my musings: http://joystory.blogspot.com/2012/07/rebecca-by-daphne-dumaurier-read-long.html

    I wish I’d have realized that DuMaurier had neglected intentionally to give her heroine her own given name. She was the first person narrator and it is often easy to loose track of their names as the author can go for dozens of pages without having occasion to use it. I wasted a lot of time racking my memory and trying to scan back over ebook pages looking for it.

    So Rebecca’s successor had only the name Mrs de Winter, one of the many hand-me-down things she shared with Rebecca. Like the raincoat and the hanky in its pocket, the dogs, the writing desk, Mrs. Danvers and of course Maxim himself. Having no name emphasized her struggle for identity as she is catapulted from one social milieu into another in which she has no clue how to be.

    • Thats a good point Joy, I knew before I read the book (well, had heard) that the narrator had not been given a name so I was ready for that. Beautiful read.

    • Ooo, I didn’t even think about the fact that even the name the heroine eventually gets was once Rebecca’s. I wonder if Du Maurier realized that as well or if it was just a happy accident. I always wonder if the cool little situations that we find in books were just accidents that ended up meaning more than originally anticipated or if the author realized what they were doing.

    • Halfway through the book I realized I didn’t know the narrator’s name. But I was listening to the audio so I couldn’t go back and look for it so I kept paying attention for a name. It bothered me until the end when I realized that she had no name and that it was intentional.

  21. 5. In what way does the relationship between the young heroine and Maxim change during the months after their arrival to Manderley?

    I thought that when they arrived at Manderley, at first, their relationship didn’t change much. Max de Winter was very aloof and seemed to leave the servants to getting the heroine used to her new home. He didn’t have much involvement at all with the heroine settling in even though he goes so far as to warn her about their gossiping, meaning he had to know that they may make a hard time of it for the heroine. I think once Max came clean about his relationship with Rebecca is when we really see the relationship between Max and the heroine grow. She realizes that he trusts her and trust can go a very long way.

  22. OMG I loved this book. Thanks so much for doing this so I could finally make myself read it. I think it has been sitting on my bookshelf for over 5 years. The first thing I noticed was that the narrator didn’t have a first name and I thought it rather odd but as I kept reading, it really seemed to work. The name of the book is Rebecca not Mrs. Max De Winter. Rebecca is the primary character even though she is deceased. I like a comment that was said earlier, in that the narrator is every woman which is why she is nameless.

    The one thing that bothers me is that once Mrs.De Winter finds out Max killed Rebecca she wants to stay with him. I don’t think I could do that. I know she is young, naive and in love but if I found out my spouse had killed his first wife, I don’t think I could stay married.
    12. It was totally shocking to find out the Max killed Rebecca. I couldn’t stop reading at that point. Yes, the details fell into place and I found myself hoping, like his wife, that he wouldn’t hang. I was biting my nails in distress, the tension of the trial was so good!

  23. Last night, I finally watched the movie! Actually, I found some passages in the book, with Mrs Danvers especially, much more creepy than in the movie!
    After the movie, I watched some extras with interviews. There was something comparing Du Maurier’s and Hitchcock’s Gothic worlds, very interesting. One passage intrigued me though: they talked about Du Maurier’s sexual life [bisexual], and talked about the relationship between Rebecca and Mrs Danvers as lesbian. Did you perceive that in the book? Did I miss it all? Let me know what you think

  24. Sorry I’m so late–my book arrived on the 15th of July, but I still went ahead and read it. I loved the book and I enjoyed reading through the discussion thread. I have just one thought to add. At the beginning of chapter 2 The new Mrs. DeWinter states, “We can never go back again, that much is certain. The past is still too close to us.” And then she also says, “he is wonderfully patient and never complains, not even when he remembers . . . which happens, I think, rather more often than he would have me know. I can tell bythe way he will look lost and puzzled suddenly, all expression dying away from his dear face as though swept clean by an unseen hand, and in its place a mask will form, a sculptured thing, formal and cold, beautiful still but lifeless.” My question is this, do you think that the burning of Manderley pushed Maxim De Winter over the edge of reason? Is he now “mad”? Is that why he is so dependent on his wife? Is this why they continue to travel and avoid Manderley? Is this why she can’t mention things that remind him of the past? In my mind this is the conclusion I have come to. Max De Winter suffered a mental breakdown and is now being nursed by his wife. Rebecca did win out in the end. What do you think?

    I’m too late to link in but here is a link to my post. kaye—the road goes ever ever on

    • Kaye, wonderful thoughts…. I would tend to believe perhaps not mad.. but definitely near the edge at times…. he must have been on the verge of snapping with all that happens. Fantastic thoughts and I am bummed that the crazy linky had already shut down…. :D

  25. I have just completed the book which I very much enjoyed. I wish to believe that Maxim and his wife lived a a quiet life that was theirs and eventually have the happiness that they deserved and craved. However I cannot escape the notion of them living in foreign exile. By all accounts Maxim had been cleared of any wrong doing so why would they do this?

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