I had to include a little du Maurier in the proceedings, because not only have I just recently read My Cousin Rachel (at last!) but Rebecca is one of my favourite books of all time - AND it has a bloody brilliant movie adaptation just begging to be raved about...
Let's start with the obvious then...
This is, without doubt, one awesome book. I always put off reading it because it seemed rather stuffy, somehow - how wrong I was! It is a taut and brilliantly written novel, bringing together different genres, exquisite symbolism and intricate complexities into a fantastic and compelling story.
When a shy, poor young woman meets a rich widower, Max de Winter, in Monte Carlo, she falls in love with him and is astounded when he asks her to be his wife. However, she soon realises that the previous Mrs de Winter's presence still hangs heavily over his life and his home - the grand Manderley, on du Maurier's beloved Cornish coast - and that the terrible secrets of their marriage will haunt them both until Rebecca takes her revenge from beyond the grave...
Full of vivid characters, naive hope, thrilling mystery, chilling despair, and descriptions that ring with pure poetry, there is no wonder that this book remains well loved through the generations.
~ THE MOVIE ~
Now, I know there's a more recent adaptation of Rebecca around, starring Emilia Fox and Charles Dance, but I'm not a big fan of either of them so I won't be watching it anytime soon. Nope, for me Rebecca will always belong to Alfred Hitchcock...
Starring handsome Laurence Olivier as Max, the startled fawn that is Joan Fontaine as the new Mrs de Winter, and Judith Anderson as the most the terrifying Mrs Danvers you could possibly imagine, this is one my all-time favourite classic movies.
Why should you watch it? Well, it's pretty faithful, for a start, and it does a superb job of conveying a really eerie, gothic atmosphere that works wonderfully in black and white. Hitchcock expertly brings out the macabre in du Maurier's tale without ever venturing into the realms of the ridiculous. There are a couple of minor plot points that aren't explained as thoroughly in the film as in the book, but I think that is only to be expected when adapting a first-person novel as personal and complex as this.
|Mrs Danvers, Rebecca's faithful housekeeper|
Starring Jane Seymour and Patrick McGoohan
When young Mary Yellan arrives at a gloomy family inn to live with her aunt, it soon becomes apparent that all is not well in this strange place. More darkness and violence in Cornwall!
Starring Anthony Delon and Tara Fitzgerald
A bored lady of the manor meets a handsome French pirate after he moors his ship in a hidden creek near her house, and gets swept up in a steamy romance and swashbuckling adventure.
Starring Rod Taylor and Jessica Tandy
A California-set Americanised adaptation of the short story, which was originally about a small community terrorised by some seriously creepy hostile gulls.