- Narrated by: Anna Massey
- Length: 14 hrs and 45 mins
- Release date: 07-04-09
- Language: English
- Publisher: Audible Studios
This started off slowly, and the narrator, with her incredibly plummy, posh English voice was quite irritating at first. Even now, I think she was the wrong choice for the reading as the voice in the story is not supposed to be posh, but that’s not really important – the main thing is the narrator does a fine job.
And what a great book this is!
I say this is a great book, but is it a great story? No, I don’t think it is – it’s quite simple as a tale, with a good twist and a decent ending. The thing that makes it so brilliant is the writing. Even when peripheral characters are talking they’re described so vividly, as are all the settings, that you can’t help but be drawn in. And the storyteller’s penchant for fantasising about what other people, especially Rebecca, might have been doing or thinking, is utterly compelling.
Our main character is never given a name, so I’ll call her X. She meets her soon-to-be-husband, and former husband of the titular Rebecca, by chance. X is a bit of a soppy girl, who does as she’s told and indeed often compares herself to a dog, who likes to be petted when they’re good. At times, this becomes infuriating, especially when she turns up at Manderley and evil old housekeper Mrs Danvers starts messing with her head. To the reader it’s very obvious what’s going on, especially when it comes to the big centrepiece of THAT DRESS (well, it was to me anyway) and I just wanted our hero to tell old Dany and that twat Favell to f**k right off, but it never happens. The silly girl allows herself to be pushed around and abused by them for pretty much the whole book.
This is, I suppose, intentional. X is supposed to be seen by us, the reader, as weak and plain, unlike the powerful, strong, beautiful, take-no-shit, dead Rebecca, who Mrs Danvers idolised. I think, as a man, I rather liked X, and was glad when she grew up a little and finally found a set of balls at the end of the book. Women listeners/readers may not be so forgiving.
Is it a romance novel? Yes, I suppose so. But it’s dark and leaves lots of questions hanging which the reader has to answer for themselves which, to me, is genius. I love it when a book makes the reader think for themselves and I try to do it in my own writing where I can. Rebecca does that masterfully. I could not stop listening to it, it was (I’ll use the word again) compelling. And, unlike Wuthering Heights, the ending was dark but hopeful, as Jane Eyre was.
A brilliant book, very highly recommended!
Rating – 5/5
I’ve already finished listening to Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel so a review of that will follow soon.