"The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon."
September 19, 2014 10:35 AM   Subscribe

"The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon."

....aaand how I have "Nellie the Elephant" playing in my head.
posted by The Tensor at 10:52 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nevermind her father the actor, the interesting fellow is her grandfather George de Maurier (1834-1896). Born in Paris, trained as an artist, staff illustrator for Punch, he began to lose his eyesight in middle age and so he decided to try novel writing. His first book, Peter Ibbetson, did all right. His second, Trilby, was the first true best selling blockbuster of a novel. Merch included soap, songs, hats, even a city in Florida. It's a cheesy Gothic number featuring the eponymous heroine Trilby as the young opera singer who makes it big in strange circumstance. Phantom of the Opera was the books most successful rip-off, and if people recognize the work at all these days, they will do so for its great villain Svengali.

Tough act for a novelist to follow.
posted by BWA at 11:19 AM on September 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you have never read the novelette The Birds you should; a truly chilling story, you can see why Hitchcock adapted it.
posted by emjaybee at 11:37 AM on September 19, 2014

I taught Rebecca a few years back in a seminar on responses to Jane Eyre, and the students got a real kick out of it. Rebecca's "after the end" beginning, which suggests that the second Mrs. de Winter's marriage is not exactly heartwarming, is very much Jane Eyre with all the air slowly let out.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:48 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I tried reading "Rebecca" twice. First time because my mom happened to have the book (she loved it) when I wanted something to read and later just to see if I could finish it.

It was too ponderous and slow-moving for me, but this look at the author was fascinating.

Maybe I'll give one of her other books a try.

Thanks for this.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:01 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fascinating article about this author and her family. In the case of Rebecca, I think the movie is a superb presentation of the story.
posted by Anitanola at 12:18 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Obligatory link: Carol Burnett's Rebecky, part 1, part 2.
posted by emjaybee at 12:34 PM on September 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Other obligation - Mitchell & Webb.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:41 PM on September 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

Joan Fontaine is so good in the movie. I loved the book, have owned several copies, but it is never on the shelf when I look for it. I remember reading My Cousin Rachel as a teenager; Du Maurier is a great storyteller, good at that slow build of suspense, with the evil in people quite believable.
posted by theora55 at 2:24 PM on September 19, 2014

I've read most of DeM's novels and they're all great reads. What I particularly like about them is none of them have especially happy endings -- it's quite refreshing. The House on the Strand, a very clever take on time travel, is probably my favorite.
posted by orrnyereg at 6:47 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a deep appreciation for Du Maurier - I think Rebecca is her best book, without a doubt, but there's plenty of merit in more than one of her others. Indeed, even the weaker ones like Flight of the Falcon have something to offer. But I do think that Rebecca was the... best distillation of her concerns as a writer. I wrote an essay once, comparing movie and film. I confess, I really like the film, too, but I felt that Hitchcock elides the most uncomfortable aspects of the book by skipping the prologue and conclusion.

Anyone interested in more Du Maurier, Jamaica Inn was her breakout novel, and holds up quite well I feel.
posted by smoke at 9:34 PM on September 19, 2014

The line I remember most from reading Rebecca is the one about the previous wife's handwriting in the, I think, household accords. The hard slash of her R, or something like that, the description of the forcefulness of the woman's writing. It's always struck me as a kind of perfect encapsulation of how it feels to read the letters of the people who've come before you -- whether they're ancestors you never knew or only dimly, whether they're previous lovers of your lover, whatever. The show of personality that this stuff gets imbued with when it's nearly all you have to know about them.

There were some truly great moments like that in reading Rebecca. The overall was slow and haunting and lingering a little too long on the familiar, but that was part of what made these moments of perfect recognition so great.
posted by E. Whitehall at 5:28 AM on September 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

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