Chapter 25 -- In which it is decided that the whole crew will head to London to meet with the mysterious Doctor Baker.
The truth screamed in their faces and they did not see. They all stood there, staring at one another, and they did not understand. I dared not look at them. I dared not betray my knowledge.
"Is my word enough for you?" said Maxim, turning to Colonel Julyan. And for the first time Colonel Julyan hesitated. I saw him glance at Frank. And a flush came over Maxim's face. I saw the little pulse beating on his forehead.
That must have been just crushing for Maxim.
I held out my arms to him and he came to me like a child. I put my arms round him and held him. We did not say anything for a long time. I held him and comforted him as though he were Jasper.
And I didn't detect any irony in that statement. Granted, comforting a dog is quite different than absentmindedly petting a dog, but still.
Just when I thought there were no laughs left in this book:
"Giles and I think it much more likely that if those holes weren't done by the rocks they were done deliberately, by some tramp or other. A Communist perhaps. There are heaps of them about. Just the sort of thing a Communist would do."
As usual, poor Beatrice, trying to do the Right Thing but instead, putting her foot in it.
Chapter 26 -- In which the description of London provides a contrast to Manderley, and the de Winters, Julyan and Favell meet with Doctor Baker.
While I can't imagine that she won't be back to Manderley before leaving forever and ever, the beginning of this chapter felt like a farewell.
Re: Baker's information -- Oh, wow. Rebecca set Maxim up. While I can't go so far as to say that she forced his hand, she did goad him into it. She wouldn't have wanted to go the other way.
Now I really do feel bad for him. I, too, fell into all of the traps this darn book had to offer.
Chapter 27 -- In which Mrs. Danvers gets her revenge.
I think he's right -- Rebecca did win. Not just because she tormented him (and then, in turn, his new wife) from Beyond the Grave, but because he ended up losing the one thing that he'd always loved, too.
I rather want to turn to the beginning and start again.
Chapter 22 -- In which the boat builder lets loose at the inquest and our narrator faints.
"It seems so odd to us, Madam, that she should have let herself be trapped like that in the cabin. She was so experienced in a boat."
"Yes, Frith. That's what we all feel. But accidents will happen. And how it happened I don't suppose any of us will ever know."
Can you imagine a conversation like this taking place a few chapters ago? Everything Frith said would have sounded ominous, and Mrs.deW2 would have been all nervous and monosyllabic. But, now -- he's almost asking for guidance and telling her that he'll "do anything that might help the family" and she's in complete control of herself and of the conversation.
They talked about him as Max de Winter. It sounded racy, horrible.
Remember when she wanted to call him Max? When she was jealous that Rebecca had always called him Max? I wonder if Rebecca called him that to irritate him.
This was good:
I still avoided his eye, but I was more convinced than ever that he knew the truth. He had always known it. From the very first. . . . I understood it all. Frank knew, but Maxim did not know that he knew. And Frank did not want Maxim to know that he knew. And we all stood there, looking at one another, keeping us these little barriers between us.
At the inquest:
The coroner was a thin, elderly man in a pince-nez. There were people there I did not know. I glanced at them out of the tail of my eye. My heart gave a jump suddenly as I recognised Mrs. Danvers. She was sitting right at the back. And Favell was beside her. Jack Favell, Rebecca's cousin. He was leaning forward, his chin in his hands, his eyes fixed on the coroner, Mr. Horridge.
You know, I wondered if anyone was going to mention the holes in the bottom of the boat.
Chapter 23 -- In which our narrator faces down Jack Favell, we learn for very sure that Frank knows The Truth, and Colonel Julyan is called to Manderley.
Have you noticed that whenever Mrs.deW2 is in a dark place mentally, she starts thinking of Mrs. Van Hopper?
Wow. Jack Favell is a pig. If Rebecca was at all like him, I rather think that Maxim's actions were somewhat justified. (A divorce probably would have been a better move and all, but that wouldn't have been very Gothic, would it?) If he'd come to Manderley with the intent of killing Maxim, or of getting Maxim to admit to wrongdoing, that would be something. But, no. He came to blackmail him. Gross.
Chapter 24 -- In which Ben and Mrs. Danvers are questioned, and Rebecca's appointment diary is unearthed.
I do think that class -- or maybe, more simply, deportment -- has been a factor in the conversation between Favell, Maxim and Julyan. If Favell hadn't been drunk, had been able to keep himself calm and in check, if he'd, you know, repressed his urge to blackmail, he'd have come off as much more believable and sympathetic (not to mention honest), and Julyan would have probably taken him more seriously. OR, you know, he could have brought the note to the authorities before the inquest. Or even brought it up at the inquest.
But he's just horrible horrible horrible, and even if it is simple snobbery that is keeping him from being taken seriously, I can't say that I care very much.
Now, finally, Ben comes into it. And he is AWESOME.
Next up: Mrs. Danvers.
Oh wow, I did NOT see that coming. It was also pretty awesome, even though she did it for (I'd assume) very different reasons than Ben. She's... something, huh?
Phew. I feel like I held my breath all the way through that chapter. Sorry about the lack of notes. My head is spinning.
Chapter 19 -- In which a ship runs aground and Maxim reveals a Big Secret.
Now that there's an outside crisis, it's as if Mrs. Danvers never tried to convince Mrs.deW2 to commit suicide:
"We had better go down," she said, "Frith will be looking for me to make arrangements. Mr. de Winter may bring the men back to the house as he said. Be careful of your hands, I'm going to shut the window."
Temporary insanity on both their parts? After the events of Chapter 18, seeing Mrs. Danvers act at all concerned about the narrator's welfare was rather jarring. And she seems to have no fear whatsoever that there will be any repercussions, either. Does she have a hold over Maxim, or does she just trust in Mrs.deW2's apparent inability to stand up for herself?
Maxim is down at the cove, smoking up a storm (I'm surprised the man still has lungs) and dealing with a ship that's run aground. He still hasn't spoken to Mrs.deW2 since before the dance.
Is it just me, or is Frith acting nicer? After being such a big jerk previously, it seemed odd to me that he's all chatty now. Maybe he's different when in crisis mode?
Ah, this makes it more understandable:
I thought how alike people were in a moment of common interest. Frank was Frith all over again, giving his version of the story, as though it mattered, as though we cared. I knew that he had gone down to the beach to look for Maxim. I knew that he had been frightened, as I had been. And now all this was forgotten and put aside, our conversation down the telephone, our mutual anxiety, his insistence that he must see me. All because a ship had gone ashore in the fog.
The paragraph beginning: "I wished I could lose my identity and join them" made me wonder how cross-class connections are treated in du Maurier's other books. They certainly haven't turned out very well in this one. So far, anyway.
Another run-in with Idiot Ben:
"She's run aground," I repeated. "I expect she's got a hole in her bottom."
His face went blank and foolish. "Aye," he said, "she's down there all right. She'll not come back again."
I rather suspect that Ben isn't talking about the ship. And is the narrator being deliberately obtuse? I hope so. Because if she's not, I've lost all hope.
The next page makes me think that she was willfully misunderstanding him -- for the first time, looking at Manderley gives her "a funny feeling of bewilderment and pride that it was my home". She feels as if she belongs. Maybe because talking with Ben really drove it home for her: Rebecca is dead.
Re: Captain Seale's visit: !!!!
It's amazing that incidents that are so completely devastating to Mrs.deW2 hardly even register with Maxim. He's so wrapped up in himself and oblivious.
Re: Maxim's secret: !!!!!! And even more !!!!!
Is it totally sick that now I actually like him a little bit? Probably. But I do. Because at least he's been all tormented about THAT, and not about Rebecca herself.
I'd guess that Ben saw it happen. But does Frank know? And does Mrs. Danvers suspect?
Chapter 20 -- In which we hear about The Other Side of Rebecca.
"I love you so much," he whispered. "So much."
What? WHAT?? Now he tells her?
"You were so aloof," he said, "always wandering into the garden with Jasper, going off on your own. You never came to me like this."
What? WHAT?? Now I hate him again. Jackassery unchained, man. Un. Chained.
"You remember the precipice. I frightened you, didn't I? You thought I was mad. Perhaps I was. Perhaps I am. It doesn't make for sanity, does it, living with the devil?"
Yeah, I'd agree with him. I think it's pretty clear that he snapped somewhere along the way.
If I don't find out what Rebecca said on that hilltop, I'm going to freak out. I mean, I've got plenty of guesses, but I want to know. Too bad there's not another version of the book from Maxim's perspective.
Are we talking orgies? Orgies? Yikes. And, in all probability, knocked up by her cousin? Awesome.
I did not say anything. I held his hands against my heart. I did not care about his shame. None of the things that he had told me mattered to me at all. I clung to one thing only, and repeated it to myself, over and over again. Maxim did not love Rebecca. He had never loved her, never, never. They had not known one moment's happiness together. Maxim was talking, and I listened to him, but his words meant nothing to me. I did not really care.
Yow. Don't let her anywhere near a cult leader.
Chapter 21 -- In which our narrator finally asserts herself.
I think that the narrator is a little bit crazy, too:
My heart, for all its anxiety and doubt, was light and free. I knew then that I was no longer afraid of Rebecca. I did not hate her any more. Now that I knew her to be evil and vicious and rotten I did not hate her any more. She could not hurt me.
I'm not saying that I don't understand what she's saying -- I do. But she still sounds crazed.
It occurred to me that she's the one with the power in their relationship. She might not have realized it yet. Heck, maybe she won't realize it at all.
Ah. Now that she's not worried about Rebecca, she's not having any trouble giving orders to the servants. Even to Mrs. Danvers:
"I'm not used to having messages sent to me by Robert," she said. "If Mrs. de Winter wanted anything changed she would ring me personally on the house telephone."
"I'm afraid it does not concern me very much what Mrs. de Winter used to do," I said. "I am Mrs. de Winter now, you know. And if I choose to sent a message by Robert I shall do so."
Oooooo, SNAP. An "Oh, and by the way, you're fired" would have been good, too, but I'm okay if we start small.
"It's gone forever, that funny, young, lost look that I loved. It won't come back again."
So, yeah. I was right about his reasons for marrying her -- or why he found her attractive in the first place -- she's Rebecca's opposite. I wonder if her new-found confidence will turn him off.
This is shorter than usual, as I'm still recovering from my Food Coma.
Chapter 16 -- In which Mrs. Danvers isn't just scary, but downright evil.
Frank Crawley was invaluable at a moment like this. He took the cups from me and handed them to people, and when my answers seemed more than usually vague owing to my concentration on the silver tea-pot he quietly and unobtrusively put in his small wedge to the conversation, relieving me of responsibility.
Frank is quite protective of Mrs.deW2, isn't he? She recognizes that. She also feels on firm enough footing with him to tease him a bit, and even flirt with him -- there was a moment when she struck me as not-very-modest, actually, and it seemed to me that it may have struck him the same way. But then, just a bit later, he and Maxim decide that he (Frank) and Mrs. Danvers will make all of the arrangements for the ball, cutting Mrs.deW2 out of the process:
I was glad, of course, to be relieved of responsibility, but it rather added to my sense of humility to feel that I was not even capable of licking stamps. I thought of the writing-desk in the morning-room, the docketed pigeon-holes all marked in ink by that slanting pointed hand.
AUUUUUUUUUUGH. Those damn labels.
Maxim is the least romantic romantic lead ever. Less romantic than stupid Heathcliff, even.
I wished he would not always treat me as a child, rather spoilt, rather irresponsible, someone to be petted from time to time when the mood came upon him, but more often forgotten, more often patted on the shoulder and told to run away and play. I wished something would happen to make me look wiser, more mature. Was it always going to be like this? He away ahead of me, with his own moods that I did not share, his secret troubles that I did not know? Would we never be together, he a man and I a woman, standing shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, with no gulf between us? I did not want to be a child. I wanted to be his wife, his mother. I wanted to be old.
Again, mixed feelings on my part. I wished something would happen to make me look wiser, more mature. Lady, "something" isn't just going to happen. You have to actually take action. Not on the Maxim front -- I think I've finally reached the point where I see him as a Lost Cause -- but just for herself. She could still live there with Mr. Broodypants, but begin to create her own life. Get a train set, for Pete's sake. At the same time, though, I feel bad for her. She doesn't want to be the child, she wants Maxim to be the child. She wants him to need her. It's all just so depressing.
Ah, her sketching becomes a Plot Point. Oh, God, is Mrs. Danvers going to trick Mrs.deW2 into wearing something that Causes a Scene? I don't know if I'll be able to handle it. She's so horrible.
Quite the dinner conversation:
"If I told you I was thinking about Surrey and Middlesex I was thinking about Surrey and Middlesex. Men are simpler than you imagine, my sweet child. But what goes on in the twisted tortuous minds of women would baffle anyone. Did you know, you did not look a bit like yourself just now? You had quite a different expression on your face."
"I did? What sort of expression?"
"I don't know that I can explain. You looked older suddenly, deceitful. It was rather unpleasant."
So. Did Maxim marry our narrator because he saw her as honest and innocent? And are those qualities that Rebecca didn't have? I don't doubt that he's plenty tortured about Rebecca, but I'm starting to wonder if his reasons for being tortured about her are actually as obvious as they appear to be.
"A husband is not so very different from a father after all. There is a certain type of knowledge I prefer you not to have. It's better kept under lock and key. So that's that. And now eat up your peaches, and don't ask me any more questions, or I shall put you in the corner."
Yecch. I'll put him in the corner.
The day of the dance:
I felt very much the same as I did the morning I was married. The same stifled feeling that I had gone too far now to turn back.
The chapter has been rough, and I haven't even found out why Mrs. Danvers suggested that dress (though I certainly have my suspicions).
I knew it. I knew it. I knew it. The dress scene made me nauseous. It was all the more crushing because she'd been so happy getting ready, and I can't remember the last time she'd been happy. And did you notice how she went from happy to somewhat frenzied to almost delirious? The tension mounted up and up and up, way before she even came down the stairs.
Why? Why why why why why would she trust Mrs. Danvers? She knows -- KNOWS -- that Mrs. Danvers hates her.
Chapter 17 -- The Ball.
You know, I was impressed with her for refusing to go down to the party, but then I also gave her points when she finally did go down. I don't think I'd have been able to do it.
Chapter 18 -- In which we get a heaping helping of Danvers Crazy.
Mrs.deW2 comes to terms with her situation:
That was why I had come down last night in my blue dress and had not stayed hidden in my room. There was nothing brave or fine about it, it was a wretched tribute to convention. I had not come down for Maxim's sake, for Beatrice's, for the sake of Manderley. I had come down because I did not want the people at the ball to think I had quarrelled with Maxim. I didn't want them to go home and say, "Of course you know they don't get on. I hear he's not at all happy." I had come for my own sake, my own poor personal pride. As I sipped my cold tea I thought with a tired bitter feeling of despair that I should be content to live in one corner of Manderley and Maxim in the other as long as the outside world should never know.
Like I said, train set.
Frank's on his way over, but I have no idea what he's planning on telling Mrs.deW2, or if he's worried that Maxim might be planning to off himself.
I hadn't realized that Mrs. Danvers raised Rebecca. Her description of Rebecca made her sound extremely unattractive -- so selfish and self-absorbed. Up until she started trying to convince the narrator to commit suicide, I was actually feeling kind of bad for her. If the rockets hadn't gone off, distracting Mrs. Danvers and Mrs.deW2, what would have happened? Would she have jumped?
Chapter 13 -- In which Mrs. Danvers has a super-sketchy visitor.
"You must be very brave," he would say, "I am afraid you must be prepared for a great shock."
AS IF. As if Frith would break anything to her gently. Rather, he'd dump it on her, and then when she freaked out, he's say, "Ah. Yes. Well, the first Mrs. de Winter was always so stalwart at times like this."
Also, was that just one of those random, uncontrollable thoughts, or was that a semi-attractive daydream?
Now she's sneaking cookies, and she's afraid the servants will see:
I went and ate them in the woods, in case one of the servants should see me on the lawn from the windows, and then go and tell the cook that they did not think Mrs. de Winter cared for the food prepared in the kitchen, as they had just seen her filling herself with fruit and biscuits. The cook would be offended, and perhaps go to Mrs. Danvers.
I can't imagine living in such fear. And the fear is so much of her own making. I realize that much of it originally stems from her personality and the class issues, but if she wants it to change, she's got to stand up. I also feel like her fears are snowballing.
One of the odd things I'm discovering about reading this so slowly is that each time I pick the book up, a good amount of time has gone by for me, so I keep expecting the narrator to have had a revelation in the meantime. I know that makes absolutely zero sense, but I feel a little jolt every time I start again and discover that she's still stuck in the same place I left her. (Makes me think of the story "Red wolf, red wolf" by W. P. Kinsella.)
Rather telling that she's so happy with Maxim away from Manderley. And that she realizes it. There's something off about the way she describes it, though -- as if Maxim is a schoolteacher. Again, yick.
She totally brought Jasper on her walk so he'd run off to The Beach of Death. (And, yes, for companionship, since he's one of the few at Manderley she's comfortable with...)
"I done nothing," he repeated, "I never told no one. I don't want to be put to the asylum." A tear rolled down his dirty face.
AH HA! What has Ben never told, and who threatened him with the asylum? ?? ???
Oh. That's who threatened him. Yikes. But what hasn't he told?
The scene with Mr. Favell STRESSED. ME. OUT. Why would Mrs. Danvers have anything to do with him? He doesn't seem like the sort she'd spend time with. He sounded so... fleshy. Is he a blackmailer? Why did he keep trying to get Mrs.deW2 to go for a ride with him? Was it so that other people would see them together, as a way to start gossip about her? Am I the most paranoid person on the planet?
On to the west wing...
Chapter 14 -- In which Mrs. Danvers gives our narrator the Grand Tour of Rebecca's room.
Why are there fresh flowers in Rebecca's room? Is it because Maxim can't let go, or is it because Mrs. Danvers can't? Or is Mrs. Danvers using the room as a Secret Love Nest? (Okay, that last one was just ridiculous.)
Then I heard a step behind me and turning round I saw Mrs. Danvers. I shall never forget the expression on her face. Triumphant, gloating, excited in a strange unhealthy way. I felt very frightened.
No kidding. I'm terrified, and I'm just reading it. It's funny that I question the narrator's reliability when it comes to almost everything else, but when Mrs. Danvers does stuff like this, I take her at her word.
I couldn't take notes at all during that scene. Yow. Mrs. Danvers wins, man. She's way scarier than Hannibal Lecter.
"Sometimes I wonder," she whispered. "Sometimes I wonder if she comes back here to Manderley and watches you and Mr. de Winter together."
A ghostly Rebecca would be less frightening than what is suggested by this whole scene, which is that Mrs. Danvers is doing the watching for her dead mistress.
Chapter 15 -- In which our narrator meets Maxim's grandmother and overhears a blowout in the library.
Beatrice drives like Agatha Raisin.
This is the first time she's made me laugh in ages and ages, and it was probably inadvertent. (On the narrator's part, I mean, not du Maurier's):
I had an uneasy feeling we might be asked to spend the approaching Christmas with Beatrice. Perhaps I could have influenza.
Ooooooooh. Mr. Favell was Rebecca's cousin. So what was her background? He had money, what with that car and all, but he sure didn't strike me as Maxim's type, class-wise. Or are we talking New Money vs. Old Money? There's clearly something going on there -- Beatrice didn't want to talk about him (which seems odd in itself) and:
"I did not take to him much," I said.
"No," said Beatrice. "I don't blame you."
And she mentions that she was very seldom at Manderley when Rebecca was alive. What's THAT all about? Holy cow, these three chapters were HUGE.
The only thing that mattered to me was that Maxim should never come to hear of it. One day I might tell Frank Crawley, but not yet, not for quite a while.
Again, she doesn't feel that she can talk with her own husband. (Not that I can really blame her -- it isn't as if he's reacted very well in the past when she's tried to talk to him.)
Whoa. What do you want to bet that Mrs. Danvers'll blame Mrs.deW2 for the scene with Maxim?
Nice to see that Maxim was so happy to be reunited with his new wife. Yeesh.
Chapter 10 -- In which a visit to the beach makes it abundantly clear that Maxim de Winter was in no way ready to marry again.
Re: The raincoat. I doubt that Maxim would have even attempted to boss Rebecca the way he bosses Mrs.deW2. (Of course, if he had made the attempt, she probably would have laughed at him. And he would have loved her for it.)
The items Mrs.deW2 omitted when she told Maxim what she and Beatrice talked about: Mrs. Danvers, Maxim's personality and temper, that coming to Manderley would be a strain on Mrs.deW2, Mrs.deW2's appearance.
His look of astonishment after she asks his opinion of her hair made me wonder if he'd ever even noticed her hair.
If Ben the Idiot Fisherman isn't a Classic Gothic Character, I don't know what is.
This was good:
There was another door at the end of the room, and I went to it, and opened it, a little fearful now, a little afraid, for I had the odd, uneasy feeling that I might come across something unawares, that I had no wish to see. Something that might harm me, that might be horrible.
All of the pauses in that first sentence worked for me, made it a billion times creepier. I kept waiting for Maxim to storm in the other door and start yelling at her for trespassing. The situation gave off a real Bluebeard vibe.
The power walk back: It was nice to see Mrs.deW2 stick up for herself, for once -- shades of an actual personality (I continue to suspect that she has more strength than she's been letting on) -- even though she backed down pretty quickly.
I still don't loathe Maxim the way that some do. He's totally self-absorbed, at least a little bit crazy, and he certainly (as I said above) shouldn't have remarried, but it's not like he presented a different face to Mrs.deW2 during their courtship period. Heck, on the first drive he took her on, he acted like he might throw himself off a cliff! She didn't have to marry him. I found this interesting:
"Yes," I said. "I've made you unhappy. It's the same as making you angry. You're all wounded and hurt and torn inside. I can't bear to see you like this. I love you so much."
"Do you?" he said. "Do you?" He held me very tight, and his eyes questioned me, dark and uncertain, the eyes of a child in pain, a child in fear.
Okay, her crazy logic aside, this made me think that he's desperate to be loved (and/or worshipped) and made me wonder if he had doubts about Rebecca's feeling for him. Or something. But I might be being overly suspicious again, and/or employing my own crazy logic.
Chapter 11 -- In which our narrator has a heart-to-heart with Frank Crawley.
This made me want to slap her: "It was all my fault, because I had gone down into the bay."
"...we lived our lives together, sleeping, eating, walking, writing letters, driving to the village, working hour by hour through our day..."
But not, you notice, enjoying it. Man, free time is so wasted on some people.
"...not the normal happy self I knew myself to be."
HA! I say again, HA!
"You have qualities that are just as important, far more so, in fact. It's perhaps cheek of me to say so, I don't know you very well. I'm a bachelor, I don't know very much about women, I lead a quiet sort of life down here at Manderley as you know, but I should say that kindliness, and sincerity, and if I may say so--modesty--are worth far more to a man, to a husband, than all the wit and beauty in the world."
AHA! My suspicions continue.
This got a guffaw:
I was not sure what he meant about modesty. It was a word I had never understood. I always imagined it had something to do with minding meeting people in a passage on the way to a bathroom...
Chapter 12 -- In which our narrator moans about Rebecca a bit more and might even realize that this is shaping up to be one of the Worst Marriages Ever.
Frith is a jerk.
"Writing letters is a waste of time," said Maxim.
Interesting that he would say that, as Rebecca had apparently spent a good part of her life writing letters.
The China Cupid Incident:
She did not seem to be surprised that I was the culprit. She looked at me with her white skull's face and her dark eyes. I felt she had known it was me all along and had accused Robert to see if I would have the courage to confess.
While I'm aware of Mrs.deW2's seriously high paranoia level, I'm inclined to agree with her on this one. Even more so after this:
"It's very unfortunate," said Mrs. Danvers, "I don't think we have ever had any breakages in the morning-room before. We were always so particular. I've done the dusting in there myself since--last year. There was no one I could trust. When Mrs. de Winter was alive we used to do the valuables together."
Wow. What a BEAST. Note that she didn't even say "the first Mrs. de Winter".
"Little idiot", "sweet child". Slappable, he is.
I think she pegged it here:
"What a slap in the eye I must be to them," I repeated. And then "I suppose that's why you married me," I said, "you knew I was dull and quiet and inexperienced, so that there would never be any gossip about me."
And, going back to the last chapter -- I think this makes it perfectly clear that she knows exactly what Frank meant by modesty. See?? She's tricky.
Maxim has noticed that she's lost weight. That's something, I guess. He's realized and admitted that he may have married her for selfish reasons. Aaaaand he's still treating her like a pet:
He patted my cheek in his terrible absent way...
Still don't hate him, though. Wouldn't want to be married to him, but I don't hate him. I just think he's a disaster.
"We are happy, aren't we? Terribly happy?"
Oh, Mrs.deW2, if you have to ask...
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.
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.
Chapter One: In which I discover that the narrator hates weeds and that Daphne du Maurier loves foreshadowing.
A lilac had mated with a copper beech, and to bind them yet more closely to one another the malevolent ivy, always an enemy to grace, had thrown her tendrils about the pair and made them prisoners. Ivy held prior place in this lost garden, the long strands crept across the lawns, and soon would encroach upon the house itself. There was another plant too, some half-breed from the woods, whose seed had been scattered long ago beneath the trees and then forgotten, and now, marching in unison with the ivy, thrust its ugly form like a giant rhubarb towards the soft grass where the daffodils had blown.
I found the last three sentences of this chapter quite foreboding:
We would not talk of Manderley, I would not tell my dream. For Manderley was ours no longer. Manderley was no more.
The first more than the other two -- if the narrator is hiding things from her companion, avoiding the subject of Manderley, then it seems clear that she's still not in a Good Place (at least emotionally), no?
Chapter Two: In which the narrator tells us more about her current situation as well as explaining how a lack of poise and confidence can engender impatience and disrespect in servants.
My concern about the last bit in the previous chapter seems to be justified here:
We were saved a retreat into the past, and I had learnt my lesson. Read English news, yes, and English sport, politics and pomposity, but in future keep the things that hurt to myself alone. They can be my secret indulgence.
This is the first glimpse of the famous Mrs. Danvers (as well as the first mention of Rebecca) -- I do wish I hadn't watched those clips from the movie so recently, because I find myself picturing Judith Anderson even though there hasn't been a physical description yet:
She would have looked at me in scorn, smiling that freezing, superior smile of hers, and I can imagine her saying: "There were never any complaints when Mrs. de Winter was alive." Mrs. Danvers. I wonder what she is doing now. She and Favell. I think it was the expression on her face that gave me my first feeling of unrest. Instinctively I thought, "She is comparing me to Rebecca"; and sharp as a sword the shadow came between us....
Chapter Three: In which the narrator tells us about Mrs. Van Hopper and about speaking with Max de Winter for the first time.
I've seen the first line of Rebecca ("Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.") pop up on numerous Favorite First Lines lists, but, me being me, (immaturity unchained, that is), it shouldn't be surprising that the first line of Chapter Three got more of a reaction out of me:
I wonder what my life would be like to-day, if Mrs. Van Hopper had not been a snob.
Mrs. Van Hopper is one of those characters who is wonderful (wonderfully awful) on the page, but who, in person, you would avoid at all costs. Though she has money and she runs in the "right" circles, she's the epitome of Not Classy. The woman makes David Brent and Michael Scott look subtle. Of course, though, she thinks she's tops. She's hilariously cringe-inducing -- hilarious to me, but cringe-inducing to both the narrator and to Max de Winter.
As this is my first read, and as I have never seen the movie all the way through, I don't know how everything turns out -- but Max de Winter was pretty darned dreamy in that first scene, and then later, when he sent the narrator an apology note. I really hope he doesn't turn out to be a jerk.*
DON'T TELL ME, THOUGH. EVEN IF I BEG.
By the end of this chapter, I was well and truly hooked -- I groaned (aloud, not inwardly) when I turned the page and realized that today's installment was over.
Next up, Chapters 4-6 on Wednesday. Be sure to let me know if you're reading and posting so that I can link to you.
Other Rebecca reader/bloggers:
*Remember, CC, the first time that I read Brat Farrar? It's like that. If we were still roommates, I'd totally be stomping in and out of your room, demanding to know if it ended well and then changing my mind, yelling, "No! Wait! Don't tell me!" and running away again, only to restart the cycle two chapters later. Ah, good times.
I have my copy and I'm itching to begin.
I can't believe I've held off for over a week! My will power is INCREDIBLE.
Let's get in the mood, shall we?
This is the reading/posting schedule I'm going to try and keep to:
Nov. 12 -- Chapters 1-3
Nov. 14 -- Chapters 4-6
Nov. 16 -- Chapters 7-9
Nov. 19 -- Chapters 10-12
Nov. 21 -- Chapters 13-15
Nov. 23 -- Chapters 16-18
Nov. 26 -- Chapters 19-21
Nov. 28 -- Chapters 22-24
Nov. 30 -- Chapters 25-27
It'll be somewhat of an exercise in self-restraint for me -- I know I'm going to want to zoom ahead. We'll see what happens. As for anyone else who's planning on reading along, obviously read (and post, if you're planning to) at whatever pace you want to! If you want to read it all in one go, if you want to read a page a day for the next year, if you want to make videos of yourself acting out scenes or doing dramatic readings and post them on YouTube, have a blast. (Quick prayer: Oh please, let someone do that!) If you are planning on posting about it, definitely let me know so that I can compile a list.
Wheee! Go! You have a little over a week to find a copy!
To those of you who are completely and irrevocably anti-Rebecca: There's absolutely nothing stopping us from doing this again.
(Again, credit for this whole idea goes to Matthew Baldwin at defective yeti.)