Hot damn, do I love Gothic Romance. I love it’s tropes, and settings, and convoluted story telling style. I love the feeling of dread and creepiness that surrounds heroines, designed specifically to project yourself onto, as the dreamy world they’ve thought they entered closes in around them. I love the long melodramtic confessional monologues of it’s tortured and withdrawn heroes and I love the descriptions of fog and rain. I love creepy housekeepers who know more than they let on.
Rebecca has all of that, and I don’t know why I’ve never read it before. Actually, I do, it’s been languishing in the TBR for at least 10 years, and I’m trying to chip away at those kinds of books. While it takes place in the 30s (I think?) it still has all of the delightful joys that make Gothic Romance worthwhile. Our heroine, who doesn’t even have a name, that’s how much of a put yourself in her shoes cipher this one is, meets the mysterious and broody Maxim De Winter (don’t you just love that name?) while she’s working as a companion in Monte Carlo. She’s a penniless young American with no relations (yess, savor the Gothic goodness!), he’s an older posh Brit with a secret and an ancient manor. After a whirlwind Romance, he proposes, claiming to be desperately in love with her and off they fly to Manderly, said ancient manor.
That’s when things get weird. It seems like everything at Manderly is centered around Rebecca, Maxim’s late wife, but no one talks about it, just around it. She’s also made to feel like Rebecca was the greatest human to ever live, and she’ll never live up. This is most driven home by Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, who is bonkers obsessed with Rebecca.
I think one of my favorite things Gothic Romance and Horror is the ways that at it’s best, it explores how the world is designed to make women doubt themselves and their sanity. Rebecca does this so expertly, I was astounded. Our heroine is sure that something is up at Manderly, but everyone else is acting like everything’s normal. And when she’s validated, I actually fist pumped.
I know I said on Monday that I’m looking forward to reading more Eliot, but I’m definitely going to read more DeMaurier, I loved this book and I can’t wait to explore more of her worlds. In the meantime though, I’m gonna watch the movie Rebecca (It’s Hitchcock! Yay!) and probably Crimson Peak again. Because, Crimson Peak is the greatest distillation of Gothic Romance ever.
Up next is Everything Is Horrible And Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love And Loss by Stephanie Wittels Wachs, because I’m due for a memoir, and again, trying to read all women this month!
GUYS! I’m halfway there. I’ve considered (really) upping the goal to 40, but the really tough epics are still to come. (June is going to be Ulysses and July Infinite Jest, so if I make through Ulysses with some extra days, I might consider upping the total.)