Oh Rebecca, what an absolutely perfect book you are - gothic-y, romance-y, mystery-y and yet at your core, you are a simple tale of caution for anyone who has ever been jealous of someone who came before.
My mother recommended this book to me when I was much younger and embroiled in a now rather embarassing chick lit habit. I refused to enjoy it the first time around, stubborn teenager that I was. Now, however, I cannot sing this book's praises enough. A little slow to start, you soon get caught up in the slightly creepy novel, drawn to the main character's plight despite her feeble nature and the twist at the end will have you skim reading just to get to the end and find out what happens. Oh, so brilliant. I won't spoil it for you, but it is truly fantastic.
Rebecca is in fact the story of the second Mrs de Winter, a character with such low self-esteem that she doesn't even name herself throughout. She believes herself to be plain, ungainly, not fit for her life with Maximillian de Winter, a man she stumbles across in Monte Carlo who whisks her off to be his wife at his country seat in Manderley. So far, so romantic - for who wouldn't feel a little inadequate having to host parties and socialise with people when you have not been brought up to do so? The catch, of course, is that Max's first wife was seemingly perfect - everyone adored her, she was a natural socialite, glamorous and beautiful. Rebecca hangs over everything that the second Mrs de Winter does, not helped by the creepy housekeeper Mrs Danvers, who strives to keep Rebecca's memory alive and to make our protagonist feel uncomfortable.
It sounds perhaps, like a slightly sinister Jane Austen, but the atmosphere pervading the book is so delightfully creepy that you find yourself thrilled where you would not expect it. And despite her pathetic nature, the second Mrs de Winter is you, every time you have had to meet the parents or attend a glamorous party on a fat day. So you want everything to go well for her, even when it seems that it cannot possibly.
This book is so delicious, you just have to read it. It just builds and builds until that brilliant twist, and when you think it can't get any more exciting it grips you harder.