from my bookshelf: rebecca by daphne du maurier


the unnamed narrator starts off the story in monte carlo, where she is something along the lines of a personal assistant to mrs. van hopper, a busybody and social climber. the narrator meets maxim de winter in monte carlo and is surprised by their immediate friendship. when he asks her to marry him, she sees it as her way out of her miserable job with mrs. van hopper. what she imagines is a charming life on manderley, maxim’s infamous estate, where she and maxim will live a life of wealth and romance. instead, the narrator enters a world where she is overshadowed by maxim’s deceased ex-wife, rebecca. the narrator spends much of the book feeling inferior to rebecca; all the while, the truth unfolds, and she discovers her new husband’s dark secrets may threaten to destroy everything they have.


“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

“I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love.”

“They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word.”

“What degradation lay in being young, I thought, and fell to tearing at my nails.”

“Children’s tears are very near the surface, and come at the first crisis.”

“I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone.”

“It was as though someone waited down there, in the little garden where the nettles grew. Someone who watched and listened.”

“Rebecca would never come back to the room again. Even if Mrs. Danvers did put the flowers on the mantelpiece and the sheets upon the bed, they would not bring her back.”

“And now and again, when I looked up from my book or glanced across the garden, I had the feeling I was not alone.”

“I thought about how little we know about the feelings of old people. Children we understand, their fears and hopes and make-believe. I was a child yesterday. I had not forgotten.”

“I wondered if it was the same in every home, this feeling of exuberance when visitors had gone.”

“I did not want to be a child. I wanted to be his wife, his mother. I wanted to be old.”

“I was too young for Maxim, too inexperienced, and more important still, I was not of his world.”

“Rebecca would always be the same. And she and I could not fight. She was too strong for me.”

“I thought how alike people were in a moment of common interest.”

“I wished I could lose my own identity and join them.”

“Standing there, looking down upon it from the banks, I realised, perhaps for the first time, with a funny feeling of bewilderment and pride, that it was my home, I belonged there, and Manderley belonged to me.”

“The moment of crisis had come, and I must face it. My old fears, my diffidence, my shyness, my hopeless sense of inferiority, must be conquered now and thrust aside. If I failed now I should fail forever. There would never be another chance.”

“When people suffer a great shock, like death, or the loss of a limb, I believe they don’t feel it just at first.”

“I had listened to his story and part of me went with him like a shadow in his tracks.”

“I wondered how it was I could be so happy when our little world about us was so black.”

“The peace of Manderley. The quietude and the grace. Whoever lived within its walls, whatever trouble there was and strife, however much uneasiness and pain, no matter what tears were shed, what sorrows born, the peace of Manderley could not be broken or the loveliness destroyed.”

“No one would ever hurt Manderley.”