Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rebecca Read Along - Week 2 Discussion

Welcome back again to Week 2 of the Rebecca Read-Along! Our goal was to have finished the book by this week. If you are running behind, no worries. We have no deadlines here at my house...we are a happy, laid-back group! (For my brief summary of the book, and discussion on the first half of the novel, click here.) Just as a reminder, here are my friends that are joining in the read-along. You can answer the questions in comment, or link to your own post:

Michele @ Reader's Respite
Carrie @ Books and Movies
Jackie @ Farm Lane Books
Frances @ Nonsuch Book
Molly @ The Bumbles
Donna @ From Little Acorns
Another Cookie Crumbles
Alice Teh @ Hello My Name is Alice
Heidenkind's Hideaway
Susan @ Bear Swamp Reflections
April @ Good Books & Good Wine
Paperback Reader

So how are you all feeling now, after finishing this roller-coaster ride? Personally, I was completely enamoured with this book. It reminded me of a recent meme question (Booking Through Thursdays I think!) about the most fun you've ever had reading a book. This was FUN, people. All out, heart-pounding, reading-until-the-wee-hours, top-10-books-of-all-time kind of fun. So to explore the last half of the book, where the action really gets rolling, here are some questions (spoilers occur - beware!):

1. There is a drastic change in the second Mrs. de Winter (whom I will call DW2 from hereon) mid-way through the book. Talk about what caused the transformation. How did you feel about DW2 after this happened?

DW2 grew up quickly after being played a fool by Mrs. Danvers at the ball. (OK let's all admit it...we knew what was going to happen, didn't we? You could see it coming a mile away, so shame on her.) That, combined with the discovery of Rebecca's boat on the ocean floor, gave DW2 an edge of maturity almost overnight. She was no longer intimidated by Mrs. Danvers! She began running the house with a firm hand! SHE EDITED A MENU! I thought it was quite refreshing! Nice to see the girl grow a pair! I fear, however, that down the road, this change in personality may be the marriage's undoing.

2. Although it was not explicitly discussed, what do you think was the true nature of the relationship between Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers?

I recall a scene when Mrs. Danvers was putting ALL the men in their place by telling them how Rebecca sneered at each and every one of them behind their backs, informing them that they had all been used. That is when it came into focus for me. I believe Mrs. Danvers was not only loyal to Rebecca, but was in love with her. Rebecca knew this, of course, and being the user that she was, manipulated Mrs. Danvers' emotions accordingly. The servant's emotions were way too intense for it to be any other way.

3. In the discussion questions last week, I asked how you felt about Maxim de Winter. Has your opinion changed? Why?

Once Maxim confessed his wrong-doings to DW2, he certainly did an about face in the personality department, didn't he? All of the sudden, he was loving towards DW2, physically and emotionally affectionate...all those things DW2 just knew would happen at some point. See, thing is, I'm not buying what he's selling. The bastard was just scared, and needed someone to cling to. So while I disliked the moody bi-polar Maxim in the first half of the book, this one really got my dander up. Not only that, but I started to question his ability to control his homicidal tendencies. I'm not sure I'd have turned MY back to him after that.

4. Were you satisfied with the ending? Did you have closure? Did you have to go back and re-read the beginning?

My mom (who just listened to this book on audio) and I discussed the ending recently, and she was not satisfied. She likes her endings wrapped up nicely, with a red bow on top, as many do. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised. No, there is no finality, no summary telling us what happened to all the characters, with a happily-ever-after flourish. But there is cosmic karma, just deserts, payback hell...whatever you want to call it. I like that. And the loose ends were long enough that I could grasp them and have some fun weaving my own ending.

I did have to go back and re-read the first chapter again. It helped me solidify the answer to the next question...

5. If you could write the sequel to this book, how would you envision the lives of Maxim and DW2 after the story's end? Do you think they'll be happy together?

I don't think their life after Manderley was a happy one. Maxim hinted at his discontent at the "new" DW2, the jaded one. I believe his initial attraction to DW2 was her innocence and childlike qualities, which were the antithesis to Rebecca. Once she lost that, the appeal would be gone. When you re-read the beginning, it seems he has completely shut down, and she still lives half of her life through her fantasies and imagination, fawning over what once was.

6. How would you classify this novel? Love story? Ghost story? Tragedy? Murder mystery? Some have called "Rebecca" one of the greatest gothic romances of all time. Do you agree?

I would classify this story as a gothic murder mystery. It isn't a ghost story per se, although Manderley is shrouded with the memory of Rebecca. I'm not sure if I'd call it a romance, because in my mind, there isn't much of that going on except in DW2's mind.

There is an interesting thing that happens to me in these read-alongs. Opinions and ideas bubble to the surface as I answer my own questions. I don't always know the answer when I sit down to write. For example, I had not realized how much I didn't like Maxim until I started really thinking about it.

When I read back through my answers last week and this week, it seems that I didn't fall in love with any of the characters, so you would conclude that I didn't like the book, right? But no! I LOVED this book. Despite the characters' flaws, they seemed very real to me. The mystery and intrigue was unspooled expertly, and kept me on the edge of my chair. Du Maurier was brilliant. When I read Wuthering Heights, for example, I loathed every character, and thought the story was a trainwreck. I did not have fun reading that one. Big difference between the two, in my opinion. Now I can't wait to dive into My Cousin Rachel...


5 out of 5 stars


Unknown said...

I'm so sorry - I'm running a little bit behind. I'm only about 1/4 of the way through Rebecca. I hope to finish it sometime this week and will get all my answers up together.

Thank you for being such a wonderful readalong host, sorry for being such a poor read alonger!

Ana S. said...

I actually did go back and re-read the beginning when I finished it, but mostly because I knew I'd appreciate the opening sequence more after I knew the whole story. I'm so glad you loved it, Sandy! It's such a great book.

ds said...

Hi! Just came to grab questions, mug o'coffee & flee.Will attempt to post answers later this afternoon if very lucky, or much later this evening if not. These are fabulous questions, Sandy!
And this has been a great experience. Thank you!

Frances said...

Without tidy ending or likable characters even, this is a remarkable read. My sweet mother went and bought the movie last weekend so we could watch it together, and that only enhanced the whole experiences especially because second wife experiences her transformation at a different point than in the novel and other little differences. Whole other discussion there.

Will post after work today as I bring my take on the lesbians. :)

Thanks again for hosting!

Unknown said...

I happened to be reading this book at the same time as you posted this read along (saw it on farmlane books). I just found out that Susan Hill was asked by the du Maurier estate to write a sequel and did called Mrs. de Winter. I knew nothing about it. Here is the link She also reviews Rebecca. I am somewhat scared to read it and have it ruin Rebecca which I really enjoyed. BUT I am really curious....

Unknown said...

Great answers Sandy. I'm running late, just posted mine. I'm going to write some comments to yours and come back & post them! Thank you, this was such fun!

Rebecca Read Along

The Bumbles said...

#1 - I think the whole ball fiasco was so sad. She was just getting to loosen up, have fun and feel a part of the world she'd landed in. And then it all got chucked to hell (which of course, I too saw coming a mile away - but I think she made this so obvious in order to distract us from all those other surprises yet to be revealed so shockingly). So I think she got very cynical after that. As if the fun part of life was all done and her only option was to grow up and deal with it - she was like a zombie forcing herself up and through that evening. The one part that bothered me was afterward, when she was so fearful of Max leaving her - and then when he next saw her he was all - oh that's right, I was rather upset with you over that whole dress thing wasn't I? Silly me. I just didn't buy that he would have forgotten how upset he was at the scene.

#2 - Totally missed the boat on this train of thought. I always just felt that Mrs. D was as mean and crazy a loon as Rebecca. That perhaps in some way her personality rubbed off on Rebecca and she thought of her as a protege of sorts - since no one loved her she found a young woman who thought the world of her and made her feel like the cat's meow. Plus she had a major ego trip going on. She just went mental after Rebecca died because her power was waning. But then again - maybe she was in love.

#3 - I actually would like to re-read the book and focus entirely on Max to answer this very question. He obviously became more human (poor choice of words I suppose for a murderer) in the second half once our narrator was made privy to the truth and certain behavior could be explained. But more than changing my opinion of Max, I really changed my opinion of DW2 when she found out her hubby murdered his first wife and all she could focus on was that he never loved Rebecca - YAY! What a dimwit.

#4 - Yes - I instantly turned to Page 1 and re-read the first 2 chapters. She spells it all out for the reader right there - she even alludes to the fire. Amazing how she could do that and not give anything away - I really enjoyed all the layers. I had no problem with the ending plot-wise. Style-wise it was very abrupt and different from her long meandering descriptive and detailed ways on every preceding page. So that puzzled me a bit. I was really most concerned with Frank and Jasper - at least we know those two were together since she sent the dog off with Frank when they left.

#6 - I would classify this as a Kick Ass Classic.

Thanks for hosting the group lead that I feel responsible for getting you into. I'm so glad you enjoyed it immensely! My review will be up next week for Teaser Tuesday.

Iliana said...

I agree, this is a 5 star book! Glad you liked it so much Sandy. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it. Granted now I'm reminded of how little I actually remember of the story! ha. I should re-read it one of these days.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie - no worries! Whenever you get your post published, I'll be here to read your thoughts! You've been away, after all!

Nymeth - I can definitely seeing myself re-read this one. Which is something I don't do often!

ds - I'm glad you enjoyed it! I can't wait to hear your opinions!

Frances - you always have a unique perspective, so I will look forward to it! I really would like to see the Alfred Hitchcock movie, but for some reason, Netflix isn't carrying it?

Heidi - wow, that was fascinating! What a complete summarization of the book. I can't say I totally agree with all of her viewpoints, but still! I think I would be scared to read this sequel, despite Hill's dedication to the mission!

Amy - loved your answers! It was fun having you along!

Bumbles - back to you in a second!

Iliana - I am normally not a re-reader, but I think this one would definitely qualify!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Bumbles - OK, I'm back! (1) Maxim's reaction at the ball was just one more freaking example of how much he minimized poor DW2. (2)Frances says she has an opinion on the lesbian angle...stay tuned! I could be completely off with this, but that implication smacked me in the face. (3) I agree. I did not see anything redeeming in his behaviour after he confesses. In fact, he seems even more of a sociopath. The sick part is that DW2 thinks everything is now just peachy! (4)I did worry about the dog too. Poor Jasper. When I was reading the first part initially, I miseed everything. But you are right, it is all there if you look close!

Hey, girl, you say the word and I would do another one! This is my second hosting of a readalong, and both have been great. The only thing I would change would be to offer more time for people to read the book. I think I was a little over-ambitious...

Alice said...

Hi Sandy, I'm going to tackle these questions when I'm less swamped. Like Ana, I re-read the beginning after I finished the last page. It's a great book, that's for sure!

Unknown said...

I watched the Hitchcock movie on YouTube if you want to see it for free.

Michele said...

You know, I've got to admit that DW2's turnaround didn't do much for me at all. As you said, she edited a menu for heaven's sake. What she needed to do was pop the glorious Mrs. D in the nose. And I have to admit that I almost joined Mrs. D chanting "jump, do it, jump," LOL. Seriously, who takes costume advice from a woman who clearly hates you? And then doesn't even run it by someone else? Sheesh.

Now I don't think there's any doubt that Mrs. D was in love with Rebecca. I'm probably being influenced by the prequel here, but Rebecca, by the end of the book, always seemed a bit whorish by then and so incredibly manipulative. I never forgave Rebecca for messing with the handicapped kid's mind. That's so low.

Now for Max. I have such mixed feelings about how he is written. I agree with your sentiments (that it seems a little too convenient for lovey-dovey after confessing to murder), but I've always thought that there was a theme here of secrets burdening the soul and our lives going on here. After Max and Mrs DW2 started sharing feelings, etc with each other, things changed. Maybe I'm being too simplistic.

I think the first chapter influenced how I thought of Max and Mrs DW2 in later years....that settled down, comfortable existence together. I've never thought they were head-over-heels in love or anything like that, but Mrs DW2, even after her transformation, was the opposite of Rebecca and if Rebecca truly tortured Max like he says she did, well, I'd like to think that he appreciated his life with Mrs. DW2.

Hard to classify this one, isn't it? :) In my mind it's a psycho-thriller, if only because Hitchcock saw it that way. Is there a "creepy" genre?

Thanks so much for hosting this Sandy!!! I do love this book and it was a perfect October read!

Ti said...

Not a participant of your read-a-long but I absolutely loved this book! The movie is great too. I bought an old copy of it at a used bookstore a few months ago and plan to re-read it at some point.

Frances said...

Finally! I have a minute to make it through everyone else's posts. Mine is up here:

ds said...

Well, my (ridiculously long & very wrong) answers are up. Love your responses! (and I completely understand the not knowing what I think till I see what I say business; happens here all the time). Thank you for being such a gracious readalong host.

April (BooksandWine) said...

I posted my responses to the questions! :-)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Where on earth have I been? Have I fallen into a complete black hole? Even though I subscribe to half these blogs I had no idea there was a Rebecca readalong going on! I'm actually reading the book right now with another blogger (Amanda from Zen Leaf) and absolutely loving it. I didn't read your questions for fear of spoilers but I'll be back!