Chapter Four: The cliff top scene made my stomach do an unpleasant somersault.
"You have a very lovely and unusual name."
"My father was a lovely and unusual person."
"Tell me about him," he said.
I looked at him over my glass of citronade. It was not easy to explain my father, and usually I never talked about him. He was my secret property. Preserved for me alone, much as Manderley was preserved for my neighbour. I had no wish to introduce him casually over a table in a Monte Carlo restaurant.
We, of course, don't hear about her father. (Maybe later. Somehow I doubt it.) It's interesting that she says, a few paragraphs later, that her "shyness fell away" in talking about her childhood, but I didn't get the impression that she didn't want to talk about her father because she was shy -- I got the impression that she didn't want to talk about her father because her was hers, her "secret property". Another secret.
For that matter, I don't know how much I buy her claim to shyness -- she's not striking me as the most reliable of narrators to begin with, and her story is being filtered by time, by perspective and, of course, by her. She's tricky. She keeps making statements and then contradicting them, sometimes through her actions and sometimes through her words.
At the same time, her relationship with Mr. de Winter is freaking me out. This:
It seemed natural for him to question me, nor did I mind. It was as though we had known one another for a long time, and had met again after a lapse of years.
But, of course, she wouldn't dream of questioning him. I mean, he's older, more experienced, has money, belongs to a higher class, is probably more educated, etc., etc., etc. The woman bought a picture of Manderley when she was a child! (Is that not a bit like Katie Holmes hanging a poster of Tom Cruise in her bedroom as a teenager?? I cannot believe I just typed that. Leaving it in and moving on...) And this:
I went up the hotel steps alone, with all the despondency of a child whose treat is over.
The chapter ends nicely, with a swing back to the end of Chapter Two, and we get a little more of Mrs. Van Hopper's ravioli monologue.
Chapter Five: In which the narrator finally asks (well, sort of) Mr. de Winter about his past and it Doesn't Go Well.
Ooo. Now she's not just not telling Mrs. Van Hopper about the time she's spending with Maxim de Winter -- she's outright lying. And though she's certainly paranoid about getting caught, the lying itself doesn't seem too hard on her. I don't know why I'm feeling so distrustful of the narrator -- maybe because anyone who puts so much stress on their own youth and inexperience just seems... well, untrustworthy. It might also be due to the filter effect that I mentioned before.
This, I think, has a whole lot more to do with the narrator (now) than it did with the narrator (past):
She leant, perhaps, over his shoulder, while he read. Max. She called him Max. It was familiar, gay, and easy on the tongue. The family could call him Maxim if they liked. Grandmothers and aunts. And people like myself, quiet and dull and youthful, who did not matter. Max was her choice, the word was her possession, she had written it with so great a confidence on the fly-leaf of that book. That bold, slanting hand, stabbing the white paper, the symbol of herself, so certain, so assured.
I know that she's been sleeping with the book under her pillow (which is a bit rough, as it was a gift to Maxim from Rebecca... not the most romantic of keepsakes), and so she clearly has feelings for him, but the anger in this passage would make much more sense to me coming from her in the present.
Chapter Six: In which there is a proposal with no mention of love on one side, a bitter tangerine, and our narrator goes psycho on Maxim's book of poetry.
More on her current situation:
Packing up. The nagging worry of departure. Lost keys, unwritten labels, tissue paper lying on the floor. I hate it all. Even now, when I have done so much of it, when I live, as the saying goes, in my boxes.
But, you know. She's very happy and content.
Have you noticed that Mrs. Van Hopper has a habit of squashing her cigarettes out in the most vile places? In the last chapter, it was in a container of cold cream. This time, in the butter. GR-oss.
My favorite line:
Nothing until the final degradation of the Christmas card.
See, this is why I can't buy her as the shy, retiring type:
"She's taking you to New York?"
"Yes, and I don't want to go. I shall hate it; I shall be miserable."
"Why in heaven's name go with her then?"
"I have to, you know that. I work for a salary. I can't afford to leave her."
Without directly asking him to do something about it... she's asking him to do something about it. The proposal scene was pretty wonderful -- I mean, as entertainment. As a proposal itself, not so much. It felt more like a business proposal. I wish I could hear HIS thoughts.
While I don't think that their relationship even approaches the healthy mark, I really do enjoy reading about him. I can certainly see why someone would find him attractive, what with his wit and the brooding and his sardonic delivery. (Not to mention Manderley.) Every scene with him is fantastically entertaining. I want to like him, and I do, kind of, despite logic. But:
"I'm being rather a brute to you, aren't I?" he said; "this isn't your idea of a proposal. We ought to be in a conservatory, you in a white frock with a rose in your hand, and a violin playing a waltz in the distance. And I should make violent love to you behind a palm tree. You would feel then that you were getting your money's worth."
While I actually loved this bit, if a guy says something like this after he's just proposed -- and hasn't said a word about actually loving you -- AND wants to get married, you know, in a couple of days and forgo the big wedding because HE'S already had one, well, run. I hate to find myself in agreement with Mrs. Van Hopper, but I am. Seems like this marriage is a bad, bad idea.
This... this is not the kind of interior monologue you want to be having after a proposal:
Romantic, that was the word I had tried to remember coming up in the lift. Yes, of course. Romantic. That was what people would say. It was all very sudden and romantic. They suddenly decided to get married and there it was. Such an adventure.
As for my doubt about the (past) narrator's anger/jealousy towards Rebecca in Chapter Five, well, there was a turn-around in this chapter. Hoo-ey. She got a little scary, didn't she?
Other Chapter 4-6 responses:
There's still time to jump in! You know you want to.