Daphne du Maurier, 13 May 1907 – 19 April 1989) was an author and playwright, she wrote novels, short stories and plays. There are also some works of Non-fiction. In June 1969 Daphne du Maurier was named as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She is perhaps best known for many of her works that have been adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca (which won the Best Picture Oscar in 1941) and Jamaica Inn and the short stories The Birds and Don’t Look Now. The first three were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the latter by Nicolas Roeg.
Since its publication in 1938, Rebecca, the book has never gone out of print. The novel was one of the classic Gothic romances. The tale is about a woman Mrs. de Winter who marries a widower Maximilian “Maxim” de Winter and so begins a psychological and macabre plot. The looming shadow of the first Mrs. De Winter, Rebecca, casts a sinister shadow over the life of the newly wed at Manderley. In fact this reminds me of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre which had similar undertones but altogether a different plot.
It is one of my favorite stories of all time and I cannot count the number of times I have gone back to it. The story and the plot have been re used many times by many other authors, some have accused Daphne du Maurier of plagiarism too but the truth is the plot may have been common, but the treatment by Daphne du Maurier is what makes this book special, it has been translated over the years in French, German, Spanish, Chinese and other languages.
The Oscar winning Film by Alfred Hitchcock aside there have been TV adaptation by BBC, plays, one adapted by Daphne du Maurier and later a musical and even an Opera. The popularity of this book has not dimmed over the decades.
While reading Ken Follet’s, The Key to Rebecca, a surprising detail popped up, that a particular edition of this book was used by the Germans in World War II as the key to a book code. Sentences would be made using single words in the book, referred to by page number, line and position in the line. One copy was kept at Rommel’s headquarters, and the other was carried by German agents. It is believed that code was never used as the Germans suspected that it had been compromised during a capture of a radio station.
Rebecca still intrigues its readers with its dark morbid scenes and the chill and dread of an impending doom clutches the reader every time they read it. The power of Daphne du Maurier’s words transports the reader and he follows Mrs. De Winters through the sinister rooms and grounds of Manderley.
This is the best book to read on a Rainy afternoon accompanied by a hot beverage because the chill that one feels down one’s spine is real and needs to be offset.
I will return to an e book version of the tale soon in this Monsoon.
Reference Source: Wikipedia.