- Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jennifer Lancaster
- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
This book, penned in the 1903s, presents an unnamed narrator who marries a man about whom she knows very little. The marriage thrusts her into an upper-class world that is unfamiliar and takes her to his famed estate, Manderley. The narrator feels haunted by the memories that her husband, townsfolk, and the staff (especially the head housekeeper) have of the husband's first wife, Rebecca. It is hard to say much more without creating spoilers of things that unfold towards the middle and end of the novel.
I'm having more trouble than normal organizing my thoughts on Rebecca. I'm giving it four stars, although it definitely dragged. In many ways, it felt more like a "novel of manners" (throwback phrase from my English-major days) and a romance than a mystery. But I do think the subtlety of Rebecca's presence is very well done and much more realistically drawn than a lot of novels garnering the "gothic" label. It is a mental and emotional haunting, not a story of ghosts. I never developed a very firm opinion of the narrator, which may explain my hesitation on the four stars. But the prose, while lengthy, is quite lovely and held me through the whole story. I appreciated the was the author built the intrigue in a story that is largely about mental and emotional struggles (the "action" starts late). I also appreciate that the novel clearly lays a foundation for future works and for future women authors. Worth a read for book lovers captured by more recent titles who want to see a bit of their "roots" and have the patience for a slower paced read.