Daphne du Maurier

Readerly Rambles: Wrapping up RIPIX and a New Classics Spin

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I rocked Carl’s RIP challenge this year. My goal was to complete at least four books and I finished seven.

  1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  2. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
  3. White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi. I haven’t reviewed this yet, but I adored it. It was deeply troubling, beautiful, and frightening. It made me think about family, racism, gender, and all the while I was terrified. The writing is gorgeous and I think it expresses that sometimes it is our perceived “inheritances” that can be the most frightening. I will certainly revisit this novel again.
  4. Dark Shadows, vol 1 by Stuart Manning. Meh
  5. The War of the Worlds by H G Wells
  6. Amphigorey by Edward Gorey
  7. Locke and Key, vol. 6 by Joe Hill

I love RIP season as September and October are perfect for ghastly and ghoulish books. Now it is November and I’ve done my post-RIP routine of determining my reads for the rest of the year. I’ve fiddled with my GoodReads goal (which feels like cheating) and I hope to finish 48 books by the end of the year. Will I make it? Seeing that I’m only at 35 probably not. But I’m willing to try. Here are my books to be read by the end of the year.

First, the in progress reads:

  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (audio)
  • Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope
  • The Collected Ghost Stories of MR James

My goal is to continue reading the stories throughout November and December. I hope to finish Rebecca and Framley Parsonage  by Monday the 10th.

Now, the rest of my TBR:

  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • The Hotel by Elizabeth Bowen
  • The Quick by Lauren Owen
  • The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope
  • Mrs. DeWinter by Susan Hill
  • The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill
  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
  • The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
  • Classic Club Spin book

That’s right! It is time for another Classic Club spin challenge! I love these. I’m already thinking about my reading for next year because I am a nerd and I love lists (duh). I want to start a new reading project. Not a CHALLENGE with a DEADLINE, but a life-long project of reading all the Virago Modern Classics. I’m officially starting in January, but I thought I’d use this last Classic Club spin challenge of the year to get started. Here are my 20 Viragos:

  1. Frost in May by Antonia White
  2. Mr. Fortune’s Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  3. The True Heart by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  4. Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead
  5. For Love Alone by Christina Stead
  6. Precious Bane by Mary Webb
  7. The Holiday by Stevie Smith
  8. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
  9. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley
  10. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
  11. A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
  12. The Lacquer Lady by F. Tennyson Jesse
  13. The Semi-attached Couple and the Semi-detached House by Emily Eden
  14. Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
  15. Over the Frontier by Stevie Smith
  16. The Beth Book by Sarah Grand
  17. A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
  18. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  19. The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
  20. The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley

A small note, while I would love to own each of these books in their perfect, green-spine glory, I’m aware that I don’t need to spend money on books AND I cannot store all of them right now. Some of these books I may own in other editions or I may *gasp* use the library. The goal is to read the books, not fuss and fiddle with editions. Next Monday I’ll find out my spin number, but for now I’m going to focus on knocking out Trollope.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

First of all, I’d like to thank Allie over at A Literary Odyssey for hosting the Rebecca Readalong; I’ve wanted to reread this book for years and the readalong gave me the perfect opportunity to do so.  Second, I didn’t post my first update for the readalong in time.  We were suppose to post on chapters 1-15 by January 14th.  The 14th rolled around and I realized I had read to chapter 17 already and the plot was thickening.  I had to make a difficult decision:  set aside Rebecca and dutifully write a blog post or ignore the deadline and devour the second half of the book.

I chose to consume the remainder of Rebecca.  This was a reread for me (I read Rebecca at least five years or more ago) and I could remember bits of the plot and the outcome, but I had difficulty recalling how everything “went down.”  Early yesterday morning I finished the reread and I have to say that Rebecca is even better the second time around.

First, a few things before I begin discussing my thoughts on the novel.  1). I’m skipping a plot summary, because I think most people are generally familiar with the premise of the book.  2).  Do not read ANY FURTHER if you have yet to read Rebecca.  This is one huge plot spoiler.  So I guess what I’m saying is that this post is for Rebecca readers only.  ;)

Several things stood out to me when rereading this book:

  1. Having an unnamed narrator/heroine is a most brilliant idea and really made the novel.
  2. This is Jane Eyre all over again.

The Unnamed Narrator:

Maxim de Winter’s new wife is young, inexperienced, poor, unglamorous and the exact opposite of Rebecca.  The reader never learns her name and this truly helps establish this new wife as less than Rebecca.  Rebecca is able to own things:  this is Rebecca’s husband, house, dog, pen, brush.  The nameless heroine can claim nothing of  her own as her namelessness leaves her with out identity.   Rebecca’s presence is heavy in the book:  the summer heat is oppressive and thick, flowers droop, doors thud and Rebecca’s very name conjures anxiety and fear.  If the heroine had a name (for example, Sally) Rebecca’s power would be diminished; Sally would have the husband, house, dog, pen, and brush.  The most the nameless heroine can do is share the title of Mrs. de Winter and Rebecca crowds her out of that title.

A significant scene occurs in chapter 20; after Maxim tells his current wife that Rebecca’s body has been discovered he is begging forgiveness and kissing his wife hungrily.  Then the heroine states, “This is what I have wanted him to say every day and every night, I thought, and now he is saying is at last…. He is saying it now…. He went on kissing me, hungry, desperate, murmuring my name (p.252).”  Maxim is saying his new wife’s name thereby diminishing Rebecca’s power.  However, the reader is still left in Rebecca’s thrall because the reader still does not know the new wife’s name.  The balance of power has tipped for the characters, but the reader still waits.

Shades of Jane Eyre:

The shades of Jane Eyre one can find in Rebecca are pretty obvious:  a wealthy man with a home full of secrets who marries a young, innocent girl.   Mr. Rochester attempts to marry Jane before disclosing his past (or the fact that he is still married) and Maxim de Winter makes a selfish decision to marry the heroine of Rebecca without disclosing his past (or even telling her anything about his life).  Jane cares for Mr. Rochester in his blindness and the nameless heroine of Rebecca cares for Maxim when there is a chance others may discover he murdered Rebecca.  Heck, we even have burning mansions in both books.

I’m not so much interested in the similarities between the two novels as I am interested in my reaction to rereading the books.  When I read Jane Eyre and Rebecca for the first time I was captivated by the romance.  Maxim and his new wife desperately love each other!  Jane and Mr. Rochester desperately love each other!  On my second readings, I had different reaction.  I found Maxim de Winter and Mr. Rochester pretty much selfish douchebags.  Sorry, but that’s my take on it.  Neither man thinks of the impact his past actions will have on marriage and love.  I thought Mr. Rochester especially egregious; attempting to marry Jane while marrying Bertha could have totally destroyed Jane; and he knew this.  Maxim is counting on his new wife to be innocent and young and bring about a freshness to his life.  Neither man views his wife/wife-to-be as an equal and both men underestimate the understanding of the women they love.

Of course, I still absolutely adore Jane Eyre and Rebecca.  In fact, I think I’ve been inspired to reread Jane Eyre in the next few months.  I’m also certain that Rebecca is a true classic that I’ll be rereading for many years to come.