Chapter 7: In which our narrator arrives at Manderley, is shown her new living area and informed that Rebecca's room was much bigger.
Even though I have my concerns about Mrs.deW2's (thanks, Gail!) reliability as a narrator, it's not like I think she's on the verge of taking a butter knife to Maxim or anything (Emma!). And I do feel for her:
And now I belonged here, this was my home, I would write letters to people saying, "We shall be down at Manderley all the summer, you must come and see us," and I would walk along this drive, strange and unfamiliar to me now, with perfect knowledge, conscious of every twist and turn...
This just hurt. She imagines the future again and again throughout this chapter -- just trying, I think, to get through the day. And, when she fantasizes about writing letters to people, who will they be to? Maxim's friends and acquaintances. Because... she doesn't have any friends or family (as far as I know). It made me feel for her much, much more than I have so far.
Her description of coming up the driveway struck me as very ominous, so I flipped back to her dream sequence to compare: On the very first page she says that the woods were, "always a menace even in the past".
As we drove up to the wide stone steps and stopped before the open door, I saw through one of the mullioned windows that the hall was full of people, and I heard Maxim swear under his breath. "Damn that woman," he said, "she knows perfectly well I did not want this sort of thing," and he put on the brakes with a jerk.
Soooo... is there a power struggle between Maxim and Mrs. Danvers? Later, he says that "she doesn't dare bully" him, but there are ways of getting your own way (and of controlling people) without bullying.
Our first look at Mrs. Danvers:
Someone advanced from the sea of faces, someone tall and gaunt, dressed in deep black, whose prominent cheek-bones and great, hollow eyes gave her a skull's face, parchment-white, set on a skeleton's frame.
Yeah, that can't be good.
The library at Manderley is the first place she's described that feels somewhat comfortable and safe. (Though it's the first of many times she's with Maxim, yet alone. You can be in the same room with someone, quiet, doing different things and still together, but not these two. There's no connection.) The creeping ivy didn't sound all that bad, though of course it made me think of the ivy in her dream.
"Run along". Ugh. Who says that to his wife? Oh, wait. The same guy who tells her to straighten her "funny little fur". He's got the protective tendencies down, too -- there was a moment after the Danvers-Mrs.deW2 Bedroom Conversation where I thought he was a little scary. But his protective moment felt more like he was protecting a pet than a wife.
Maxim and the narrator seem bounce around so much, personality and emotion-wise, that I feel like they're affecting me. I think this book might make me bipolar.
Chapter 8: In which our narrator experiences the daily routine at Manderley.
Rebecca is always there:
I put it back in the box again, and shut the drawer, feeling guilty suddenly, and deceitful, as though I were staying in somebody else's house and my hostess had said to me, "Yes, of course, write letters at my desk," and I had unforgivably, in a stealthy manner, peeped at her correspondence.
And then, when she answers the phone:
There was a strange buzzing at the end of the line, and then a voice came, low and rather harsh, whether that of a woman or a man I could not tell, and "Mrs. de Winter?" is said, "Mrs. de Winter?"
"I'm afraid you have made a mistake," I said, "Mrs. de Winter has been dead for over a year."
Oh, that was the WORST. I groaned (out loud) because it hurt so much. I can't believe how differently I feel about her now that she's come to Manderley. She's surrounded by people who know the routine and the house and each other and who aren't really going out of their way to help her be comfortable and fit in. (That isn't to say that I don't think she's being spineless. I do. Especially because those first few chapters made me think that there was more to her. But we'll see what happens.)
Who was it that commented on Rebecca as a YA read? I am seeing it in these chapters -- the fish-out-of-water feeling, the Catch-22 of refusing to ask questions due to fear of appearing ignorant, but then appearing ignorant anyway because of never getting the answers to the questions that weren't asked, imagining that everything anyone else says out of earshot is about you, etc. But I do think I have less sympathy for the narrator than I do for, say, Naylor's Alice McKinley, because A) she's older (or one would hope) and B) she's been on her own for some time now.
Oh, and more pain -- writing to Mrs. Van Hopper because she has no one else to write to -- this poor girl needs a hobby.
Chapter 9: In which our narrator runs away from her guests, gets caught by Mrs. Danvers in the west wing and irritates Maxim by not ending lunch soon enough.
So she does know:
I listened to them both, leaning against Maxim's arm, rubbing my chin on his sleeve. He stroked my hand absently, not thinking, talking to Beatrice.
"That's what I do to Jasper," I thought. "I'm being like Jasper now, leaning against him. He pats me now and again, when he remembers, and I'm pleased, I get closer to him for a moment. He likes me in the way I like Jasper."
Beatrice is fantastic -- the sort of woman Bertie Wooster would find terrifying, but comforting in this setting, probably because she seems to be the only one what actually voices her thoughts.
I do want to go back to the scene with Mrs. Danvers in the west wing, but I have to go in to work. Hopefully later today.