So I finished Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, dubbed by its cover as ‘The Unsurpassed Modern Masterpiece of Romantic Suspense.’
That blurb is blatant false advertising. But at least the cover was pretty.
Be warned that major spoilers follow, so if you’re planning to read this book, you may want to pass this up.
To the unnamed narrator of Rebecca,
Sweetheart, we need to have a talk.
It’s clear throughout your story that you have some major self-esteem issues. You’re a lonely person, terribly self-conscious about how people perceive you. This doesn’t always make for interesting narration, but I’ve been in your shoes, and trust me, I know where you’re coming from. I know what it feels like to think that you’re out of place wherever you go, that everyone is laughing at you the minute your back is turned, and that no matter what happens, you’ll be nothing but a bumbling outsider.
It’s a miserable experience. Probably one of the most miserable. I am surprised that you struggled with this as long as you did- I went through that wretched point of life from age 13-15, and you’re 21, or near it, at the point the novel begins. But given how you’ve been pushed around your entire life, I can buy your loneliness, and at the beginning of your story, I really felt bad for you. I wanted things to get better.
However you started to actively work against that when you married a guy after knowing him for two weeks.
I know that whirlwind romances can sometimes work out, but you knew nothing about this guy. No matter how loathsome your situation with your employer was- and yes, your job as companion was really awful- marrying a complete stranger will not make it better. I know that you didn’t want to face the prospect of being a companion your entire life, but marriage is rather more permanent than profession, don’t you think? Again, you’re 21. You have a lot of time ahead of you to figure employment out. Marriage, on the other hand, is not so easy to figure out, not even for couples that knew each other a lot longer than you and Maxim did.
Speaking of Maxim… okay, I’m going to put this bluntly. You should not be married to this guy.
You say you love him, and I don’t doubt that you do- your affection for him rings completely sincere. But sweetheart (by the way, I really wish you’d told me your name when you started your story, it makes direct address kind of difficult when I don’t know it), Maxim is not a good guy.
I’m going to say it, even though you refuse to acknowledge it from the moment of the big reveal.
Your husband is a murderer.
He murdered his first wife, because she goaded him, and because she was promiscuous and unfaithful.
That is not someone you should love or defend. I know that his first wife was an awful person, but HE SHOT HER. You might think it’s strength to try and help him and defend him when the investigation begins to turn on him, but it’s insecurity disguised as backbone. I know how hard it is to admit that something you chose was a mistake. I can even understand why you’d want to defend him or justify him. Love can make people do crazy things.
But sweetheart, to quote the great Hercule Poirot, “Getting rid of women is a vice that grows.”
How do you know your husband won’t eventually turn on you? Yes, this murder (call it what it is, he shot his wife when all she did was goad him verbally) may be an anomaly, a case of the worm turning. But how do you know? What do you love in this man other than that he offers you the chance to be something that you don’t want to be? You want to be loved and respected. But the love and respect of a man like Maxim de Winter is not worth the weight you give it. He has very little to offer you intellectually or emotionally, and though I sometimes get annoyed with you, you are capable of being a better person than him. He does not deserve you. Why are you bound and determined to sink to his level?
I’ve seen your story compared to Jane Eyre, and I have to say apart from a mansion burning down- there really is no comparison, and the scales don’t tip in your story’s favor. For one thing, Edward Rochester is a thousand times better of a person than Maxim de Winter could ever be. For one thing, his first wife was genuinely insane, and even then he didn’t ship her off to a prison asylum or kill her. It’s not a good sign when Rochester pre-house burning is a better person than your husband is at any point.
I won’t touch how Jane’s actions compare with yours other than to say that you could take a few lessons from her, most notably in the areas of personal integrity and self-respect.
On the plus side- you told your story well, with great suspense. Why not use that? Make a living that way, go your own places, find something to do that will let you find respect on your own terms.
It would be a lot better for you than any of your actions to date.