Category Archives: Favourite Books

Reviews of my favourite books.

Favourite Books – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca Daphne du Maurier

The Blurb

Last night I dreamt I went Manderley again…

Working as a lady’s companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place.  Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise.  Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man.  and the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers…

My Thoughts

Du Mauriers classic novel about a young woman who meets Maxim De Winter while working as a ladys companion in Monte Carlo and quickly marries him. Maxim is a wealthy man who lost his wife, Rebecca, in an accident a year ago and is the owner of Mandeley, a beautiful home on the coast, well know for its parties. On returning to Manderley following their marriage the narrator is haunted by Rebecca and the fact that she can not live up to her much loved and adored predecessor.

We never find out what the narrators name is and this adds to the feeling that Rebecca permeates everything at Manderley. We see the insecurities in the narrator, her sense of being unable to ever live up to Rebecca and compete with the dead woman, her worry that Maxim will never love her the way he loved Rebecca all compounded by the housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, and others remarks about how she is not like Rebecca.

At times I felt incredibly frustrated by the narrator and doubted if Maxim had any breadth of feeling for her, however when the truth unfolds it all makes sense and I feel Du Maurier deliberately portrayed her this way in order for the reader to feel sympathy and root for the couple in circumstances in which you wouldn’t normally.

This book is beautifully written and Manderley almost becomes a living organism in itself and a central character in the novel. This and the use of weather to highlight the psychological states of the characters is very well done and is reminiscent of one of my favourite novels, Wuthering Heights. More than just a love story or a Gothic novel, this book also uses psychology to progress the story and the characters.

It is difficult to write a review that does not spoil the story and give away the twists at the end for those who have not read it. I loved this book, it kept me wanting to read more and the prose is stunning. It is firmly on my list of favourites and one that I return to again and again.

Published 9 February 2012 by Virago.

First published May 1938.

Reviewed 16 January 2016


A Favourite Books Review – Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

I have written a few reviews for my all time favourite books when I have re-read them, either for pleasure or if they have come up as part of the reading group I take part in.  I hope you don’t mind me sharing these reviews with you and if you have read them or go on to read them I would love to hear your opinions!



The Blurb

When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall.  A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future.

My Review

‘But, some might say, where was Tess’s guardian angel? Where was the providence of her simple faith?’

I have always been a fan of Thomas Hardy and was pleased when Tess of the D’Urbervilles was chosen by the reading group I am part of.  It had been many years since I last read it and I thoroughly enjoyed re-visiting this book.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a tragic tale about what happens to the heroine when her poor, lower class family discover they are descendants of an old, aristocratic family and she goes to seek assistance from who they believe is a family member.  Her innocence and purity are stripped away and this affects the course of her life.

Written in the 19th century, Hardy caused outrage with this book due to his commentary on the Victorian class system and it’s inequalities, religion and Victorian morals which he saw as hypocritical and unfair.

A desperately sad story, we see Tess struggle against what life has thrown at her.  It is made even more tragic as Tess is a pure and innocent girl with good morals.  Hardy uses the concept of fate throughout leaving the reader to contemplate how much we can control what happens to us and how much is a predestined path which we are put upon following certain events and actions.

Hardy’s prose is stunning and the backdrop of the Wessex countryside is richly described and beautiful.  His portrayal of the main characters have you changing your opinions of them throughout the book, swinging from liking them to despairing of them.  Tess herself evokes empathy through the futility of her situation and the fact she is essentially a victim of the society she is a part of.

Quite rightly a literary classic, Tess of the D’Urbervilles takes you to the dubious ,moral centre and harshness of Victorian England.  I would urge anyone who is interested in history to read this stunning book, however, have tissues ready as you will need them!

Published 30 January 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1891).

Review written 30 December 2015.