by Daphne DuMaurier
This is a Classic written in 1938 that has the poetic feeling of stories written in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The story starts out with a tone of remembrance about a place called Manderley. You can hear a sadness in the 'voice' of the first person narrator, even without knowing anything about the person whose memories we're about to experience. We are never given her first name, but she soon becomes known as the second Mrs. de Winter.
In some ways the first couple of chapters seemed a little slow and I found it hard to identify with the main character, who is far too shy and self-deprecating. Yet I found myself being drawn in to her story and although I thought Max de Winter was a real beast to her, I approved of the choice she made and in the same circumstances, I'm sure I would have done the same thing. She did love him after all, despite his gruff ways, and choices for women in that time were very limited. I might well have strangled her employer.
I wasn't quite halfway through when I noticed hints that certain assumptions about things at Manderley might not be as they seemed. What unfolded had some real surprises in store.
I couldn't identify with the second Mrs. de Winter at all, yet I found myself drawn into the story and wanting to see what happened. Her mental scenarios of how things might turn against her became silly and there were times I wanted to slap her and tell her to do something other than what she was doing. My biggest complaint would be the ending. If this book had been published recently, I would expect a sequel to tell me what happened after the ending events. A lot of questions about what would follow were left unanswered. Other people have tried writing sequels, but they haven't caught my interest.
I'm giving this 4 stars because the quality of the writing is superb, but in fact I didn't like any of the characters. I do have to admit that they were well defined though, and I will probably read more of DuMaurier because of the quality of her writing.