Author: Daphne Du Maurier
A brilliant book! It's set in a background similar to what one witnesses in a Jane Austen's novels: victorian england, gossiping ladies, rich estates owned by handsome men, so on and so forth. However, the plot is very different. The latter half of the novel is spent biting your nails and every chapter keeps you guessing as to what's going to happen next.
A young and penniless girl falls into love with Maxim, the owner of a rich estate near London and 20 years too old for her, who has come to visit France; and gets married to him all of a sudden. All is well till they reach Manderley, their home. From then on her life is surrounded by Rebecca, ex-wife of Maxim, who is no more. When she met people they compared her to Rebecca; when she directed servants they told her how Rebecca did things; people ask her if she'll maintain the place like Rebecca did; almost everything in and around the house was bought and placed by Rebecca and everybody around her seems to cimply love Rebecca. She becomes daunted by this image of Rebecca. The young bride feels that even her husband hasn't overcome his love for his first wife but he never talks to her about it. The less he talks about it, the deeper the connection she perceives and the more curious she grows. The happiness that she imagined is nowhere to be seen but then suddenly one day a body is found in a boat near their property. Since that day her life changes completely.
This is a book which has emotions and mystery. The protagonist is so much in awe of Rebecca that she starts day-dreaming and is always enacting in her mind what would happen if did something: what would people think and say about her, how would Maxim react, etc. Towards the end of the first half it started coming on my nerves because she would have this chain of thoughts even if all she'd to do was choose between "yes" and "no". That just shows how she lived under a constant fear. The first half takes you down the road of romance and emotions and the second half builds up the mystery.
Being a Jane Austen fan, I was not expecting the story to take the turn that it did towards the second half and maybe that made it all the more fun.
Bottomline: A must read!