Whilst in Monte Carlo, Maxim de Winter proposes marriage to a young, orphaned girl working as a ladies maid to the insufferable well-to-do, Mrs Van Hopper. Installing herself as mistress of Manderely back in England, our young heroine has a tough job to do on the back of Maxim’s recently deceased wife, Rebecca. The house staff are not necessarily well disposed towards her either, especially the housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, and it soon becomes clear that the beautiful Rebecca remains on a saintly pedestal. The new Mrs De Winter makes many small mistakes culminating in the embarrassing horror of choosing the exact same costume as Rebecca during the annual ball at Manderely. All of this is, of course, engineered by Mrs Danvers, who seems to have an unnatural preoccupation with her former mistress. When Rebecca’s body is accidentally discovered there are serious questions raised and Maxim comes under dark scrutiny. Was it murder, suicide, or a boating accident? The truth slowly floats to the surface, exposing a complex web of betrayal, secrets, and twisted personalities.
A long, introspective novel. Overall, for me, far too much narration and I found it a little irritating that the narrator/heroine had no name (in order to emphasise her lack of power) coupled with the constant documentation of small inconsequential details which slowed the plot to such a degree that the first 60% felt interminably slow. But then we get on to the meat of the story and its only when our heroine comes to realise some truths that she seems to grow and develop, and find a backbone (but still no name!) I loved the gothic setting and the author has a wonderfully descriptive tone but for me it was only the final third of the story which commanded a comfortable 3 stars.