Monday, 2 February 2015

Du Maurier and Corstopitum

Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca is a classic novel, written in 1938. I read it years ago after hearing people quote the opening line : 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.' 

I enjoyed it on this re-read, but found the amount of description surprising - of gardens, plants, scents, and the sea .  I didn't even notice them the first time, let alone find it odd.. Today, no doubt thanks to television, cinema and 24 hour news, I wanted less description; I wanted things to move faster. But it isn't a story that moves far or fast, and that is part of the charm. Very little actually happens; it is the threat of something bad about to happen, the sense of being inadequate, knowing that others find you lacking that makes up the story.  Is the threat real, or in the heroine's imagination. Is she even a heroine, for she is nameless and far from heroic. Rebecca is the star of the show and she's been dead a year and a half. A clever concept, and well handled. But would it have been picked for publication today?

Enjoyed a lovely walk on  Sunday afternoon along the Corbridge river bank and then up past the Roman site at Corstopitum  http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/corbridge-roman-town-hadrians-wall/history-and-research 

Brilliant weather for January, and lots of people out walking kids and dogs.


2 comments:

Jen Black said...


Maggie Scott In addition to the somber, brooding sense of something not right, the lovely, lush descriptions of everything were the best memories I have of Rebecca. I can still recall the bit about how the azaleas looked and smelled in the light spring rain of Happy Valley. And I firmly believe it is the use of those sorts of descriptions that saturate all a reader's senses, together with whatever "action" moves things along, that distinguish a book you remember for decades from one you read last week, with its frenetic, instant gratification pace, that you cannot recall today.

Jen Black said...

Jenny Pilgrim said:
Interesting points you made about the style of writing; in among the modern novels we tend to read at book club, we read Beyond the Black Stump by Neville Shute - similar style comments were made. Less of the "how do you feel" and more of the descriptions!