I've joined Leila from Bookshelves of Doom in her Big Read of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Leila is trying to read to a schedule, which I'm also going to try to follow (with the aid of bookmarks to stop me accidentally reading past a chapter...I'm not much chop at noticing chapter breaks). If you want to join in please do, the chapters are very short so far so it would be easy to catch up. I think I'll post about once a week or so. As any reader of this blog will have picked up, I am not a particularly critical reader so please do not expect grand theories or insights from me!
Despite it's classic status I'm pretty sure I haven't read Rebecca before, unless it was very lightly as a child. So please refrain from spoilers in the comments! Since I picked up another Du Maurier, My cousin Rachel from a free book pile a couple of months ago and mostly enjoyed it (mostly as I didn't finish it as the main character was irritating me beyond belief), I've been planning to read Rebecca, so this was a good shove along.
Today was chapters 1-3. I haven't read Leila's thoughts yet but I enjoyed the start of the book. Du Maurier managed to set up the basis for the story ahead very efficiently through the reminiscing of the main character.* It was laden with lots of dire symbols of doom, which never go astray. We got to meet key characters (I'm guessing) including the handsome and mysterious Max De Winter, the disapproving Mrs Danvers (OK, thanks to Jasper Fforde I know she's important), the young and awkward main character and even found out that there was a dead wife (the saintly Rebecca) in the picture. I got the feeling the snobbish Mrs Van Hopper was there to have the main character and Max meet (not that this meant she wasn't scarily realistic in her vulgarity and squishing of her young companion).
If these chapters are any indication I think I'll enjoy the Englishness of the book. It feels like it is going to be rooted in an appreciation of the English countryside and traditions. I love observing the strange relationship the English have had at times with natural world (seen here in the first chapter where the symbol of the death of Manderlay is nature taking over the civilised and ordered drive and gardens). Unlike Rebecca and her unnamed companion who suffer the "hard, clean sky" of their new home and pine for their English garden, I am trying to alleviate my homesickness for my blue sunny world with an understanding and enjoyment of this new landscape I am in, and am taking an even greater delight in books set here.
*Hey, I've just realised we don't know the main character's name - is this to make her subservient to the dead Rebecca?