Back in 1938, Daphne du Maurier wrote a novel that has become a classic. It is the story of three people. The deceased Rebecca, her mourning husband Maxim de Winter and a young woman, the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter, who is also the narrator.
The young woman works as a lady’s companion and she definitely knows her place. She founds herself in Monte Carlo where she meets the handsome de Winter as he spends some time away from Manderley, his home, and the painful memories of his wife’s loss. The American woman she accompanies has heard all the gossips about that story and dies to get to know Mr. de Winter. The American gets ill and so the other two have plenty of time to spend together, until one day, de Winter proposes to the young woman and they get married! They spend their honeymoon in Italy and after some time they decide to go back to Manderley.
There, our heroine, found more that the building, the gardens, the servants and the dreadful sinister, Mrs. Danvers. The memory of Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife is still alive. Her bedroom has remained unchanged, her clothes are still waiting for her and Mrs. Danvers is still loyal to her. Furthermore, Maxim is no longer the man she met in Monte Carlo and married few months ago. He does not express his love and affection as she would expected. He is cold and typical. Obviously, his first wife is still in his mind, holding a large piece of it… Everyone speaks about Rebecca. How nice and beautiful she was. How she liked everyone. How she always knew the right subject to discuss with different people.
Day by day, the lovely romance starts to fade. Fear becomes her night and day companion. Fear and uncertainty. She loves Maxim too much to hold on, but how much longer can she take? Everyone loughs at her and compares her to Rebecca. Everything around her, shout the dead woman’s name. The house, the furniture, the gardens, the little cottage at the shore, where she used to keep her sailing boat, the one that took her to the bottom of the sea.
“The shadow of this woman darkened their love.”
Alfred Hitchcock saw something on this book and made it into a movie in 1940. Laurence Olivier played Maxim de Winter and Joane Fontain was the second Mrs. de Winter. Judith Anderson was Mrs. Danvers.
To have a taste, check the film’s official page.