There’s nothing I enjoy more on a long weekend than digging into a book. So when Saturday morning dawned, I wandered into the family room with a copy of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, grabbed my favorite wool throw, and cuddled up on the sofa to read.
As I read the famous first sentence, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” I found I was in a place both familiar and completely foreign. I had never read Rebecca, but it had been on my tbr for a long, long time. And one can’t study literature without knowing that first line. It’s as known as the opening lines to Pride and Prejudice or A Tale of Two Cities. And so my journey to Manderly began.
The first pages were a bit of a bore. I was restless and bothered by Mrs. Van Hopper, and I suppose that is the point, but I stayed there curled up on the couch for a few quiet hours on Saturday morning, visiting the Cote d’Azur and meeting Maxim for the first time.
Soon it was time to start my day, and I went through the Saturday like normal, writing group, chores, some knitting. I didn’t have a strong desire to pick up Rebecca again. However, I did find myself at Manderly as I was reading before bed. My eyes grew heavy, and I put the book down.
Sunday morning, I found myself back on the sofa, wrapped up in my favorite wool throw with the dog snuggled next to me as I continued to read Rebecca. I was starting to explore Manderly. Happy Valley. The Boat House. The closed up West Wing. I wished Mrs. de Winter would grow a bit of a spine and start to find her place in the house and stand up to the staff. I appreciated dear Bee being a friend to our young heroine. I fretted over what Danvers and Mr. Favell were up to–clearly no good.
As the morning wore on, it was clear that Danvers was setting Mrs. de Winter up for something. I wanted to shake her and ask her to question why Danvers was being nice to her all of a sudden. Enough clues had been dropped along the way to know that Danvers hadn’t simply “come around.” She wasn’t simply going to suddenly start respecting our young heroine. It was all going to end in disaster for Mrs. de Winter. Didn’t she know that? Couldn’t she see?
I found myself needing to leave Manderly to enjoy Valentine’s Day, and I set the book aside on the ottoman. I kept feeling the pull to go back. What was going to happen at the fancy dress ball? Would Maxim see Danvers for what she was? Would Mrs. de Winter? I knew Maxim and our heroine would be able to move beyond whatever coldness was plaguing them at Manderly. That much was clear from the opening chapter. But how would they get there when everything seemed to point to ruin for them.
Throughout the day, I dipped in and out of the book, and by bedtime, I was just ready to finish off the book. They found the boat. Ben’s ramblings suddenly made sense. And I needed to know what was going to happen to our heroine. I read and read and read. Despite being tired, my eyes did not grow heavy. My husband questioned me, “Are you not sleepy?” and I barely answered him because I didn’t want to be pulled from that place where I was fully immersed in the book. Faster and faster I turned the pages. Until I reached the final point when the de Winters saw Manderly for the last time.
The next morning, I awoke, padded out to the family room, placed the book next to my husband’s stack of books on the ottoman, and looked for something else to read. Nothing was going to come close to the slow burn of Rebecca, and I found myself wishing I could visit Manderly one last time.