“Return to Manderley”

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When I was thirteen I read Daphne Du Maurier’s 1938 novel Rebecca. Although I didn’t remember the plot, I recalled my immersion in the reading and my understanding that I could now read “adult” novels.( Before I was thirteen I had to have a note from my mother to allow me entrance to the adult section of the library. Needless to say that encouraged my leap to more difficult reading.)

I suggested to my covid bound thirteen year old granddaughter, an avid reader, that she try Rebecca for herself. For the last three days she has reported the experience she is having reading it. We sit six feet apart and she regales me with the excitement, the reading challenge, and the plot of the book. I am genuinely curious about the plot since I don’t remember it, and any young reader loves to recount the story line to a receptive ear. I expect that at our evening’s get together tonight she will have finished the novel and I can find out what happened at Manderley after years of only remembering the famous opening line, Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

I asked her if the book was challenging to read. She told me that she can understand the words but that the plot is complicated and sometimes difficult to follow. Most delightfully for me, a retired English professor, she said “they used more verbs then.” What a wonderful commentary on the rich language in ordinary popular fiction. I am glad she rose to the reading challenge and has been swept away as I was sixty years ago by good writing.

41 thoughts on ““Return to Manderley”

  1. You must have died and gone to heaven! I didn’t read the book when I was younger. I must confess my mother (the voracious book reader) wanted to watch the movie with me, one of the few book movies that is excellent. Any time I can talk about books with children is a great experience. My granddaughter is like yours, and I wait for the day we can visit and ‘talk books’.

    Savor this, Elizabeth. Besides the classics (which are always the best), the two of you can have your own reading group, reading a book that is new to both of you. Okay, I’m getting excited. I can recommend some that will have both of you engrossed.

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      1. Wow! I would first suggest “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. It immediately became mandatory reading in schools. I hope you haven’t read it, because the two of you will love it and have a lively book club suggestion. It’s a modern day story. Have you named the club for the two of you? Teenagers love that, you know. Let her pick something cool. That will make it special.

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      2. I never heard of Rebecca. Pride and Prejudice (and The Little Women- part 2, for that matter) I have an issue with. The entire novel went well. But somehow the writer had to ensure every person in the story was married and their family and kids accounted for. Reading the last few pages is always an effort.

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        1. Seriously? I had no idea. Honestly, part 1 sounds fine, it is part two that was disappointing. The end had details about each person’s children. Even dead ones. I don’t mind happy endings as long as they aren’t preachy

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  2. That is exciting that you and your granddaughter are sharing that novel. I read it long ago and don’t remember what happened, either. When we lived in England, I think we saw a house that was supposed to be the setting for the novel.

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  3. Whe she has finished the book, you should try to rent or buy the film adaptation with Lawrence Olivier to watch with her. It is excellent, with Judith Anderson outstanding as Mrs Danvers.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. How wonderful. I have two grandsons, one of whom is a voracious reader but his taste will never extend to du Maurier I suspect. So many pleasures in this simple sharing of a classic. And how perceptive of your granddaughter to identify this aspect of the writing style. I hope you will share with us how you each respond to the finale, Elizabeth.

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  5. It is wonderful when you can share the wonder of a great book with a child. I remember when Gregory read The Secret Garden and said it was full of mystery and delight. One of my favourite children’s books.

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  6. I’m thinking how lovely it is to be able to be a young person who can share her reading impressions with her grandmother! And your granddaughter’s observation that “they used more verbs then” is so good.

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  7. Cornwall is lovely & definitely worth a visit – when the tourists aren’t there! Also Cumbria. But for open spaces and a wild, gorgeous sea, and a land soaked in history, visit Northumberland. And from there it’s a short hop into Scotland – via Edinburgh.

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  8. This is inspiring! I’ve never read this particular book, but there are so many novels I enjoyed immensely when I was younger that I also don’t quite remember the plot anymore 🙂 such a nice experience to be able to share that with your granddaughter

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