First of all let me say I absolutely LOVED this book, if I sound like I'm gushing, it's because I'm so happy at having found and read this book!
Also, I'll refer to the main character as MC, because her name is never revealed and I don't know what else to call her.
Our MC is a young woman, who is a companion to and older woman, the only way she has of supporting herself after her father died and having no other relatives. She's travelled with this woman to Monte Carlo, where she meets Maxim de Winter, a man whose wife died a year ago. He's the owner of a huge estate called Manderley and has people wondering who he will marry to replace the beautiful Rebecca, his first wife. He develops an interest for MC and takes her out in his car every morning while the woman she's there with is in bed with the flu. After she gets better, she wants to go back to New York and upon hearing this, Maxim proposes to our MC.
After their honeymoon, they arrive at Manderley, which is a beautiful place, but MC doesn't really feel at home there. The servants all knew and loved Rebecca and she feels as if everyone is comparing them, with MC always coming up short. Even one of the dogs seems to dismiss her for not being her old mistress.
MC can't really find her way, she's shy about meeting the people who live near and Maxim seems different from their time in Monte Carlo and after that their honeymoon in Italy. And there's the creepy servant Mrs. Danvers to deal with, who knew Rebecca since she was a child and loved her very much. She even keeps the rooms Rebecca used in exactly the same state as they were the night the died. Our MC is afraid of this woman and doesn't want to upset her.
The only one she can confide in is Frank Crawley, a man who works for Maxim. Struggling with her marriage and her new life, will she ever be free from the ghost of Rebecca who manages to influence life so much even when she's dead herself?
The setting of Manderley was perfect for this book! It was so huge that you were practically isolated from the rest of the world and I felt MC's loneliness. The house was so big that you could get lost in it and MC does get lost at first and discovers the chambers that used to be Rebecca's. Imagine the horror at finding a shrine to a dead woman! Even when the new mistress of the house has moved in, everything remains the same as if she went on living, her favourite food is still eaten and the rooms she decorated haven't been altered. Everyone in the neighbourhood raves about her beauty, her grace, her parties, her friendliness.. I felt for our MC being compared to some sort of saint.
Mrs. Danvers was just evil, the woman seemed obsessed with Rebecca and was trying her hardest to make life difficult for MC. Even going as far as trying to convince her to commit suicide! Their was something really creepy about her all consuming love for a child she watched grow into a woman, it didn't seem natural.
I thought it was heartbreaking watching the relationship between Maxim and MC, because she was so convinced he could never love her after having been married to Rebecca. And Maxim didn't really do much to prove her wrong, treating her more like a child than his wife.
The twists in the story were so wonderful! I didn't see them coming, even though I expected there to be many, many secrets. At the beginning of the book we're told that at least our MC doesn't live at Manderley anymore, but I couldn't figure out until right before the ending why that was and what had happened.
The story was so dark and mysterious! I cried with our MC in her moments of despair and felt the gloom of the place and her loneliness. Every lover of Jane Eyre should read this book, I thought it was amazing and it's one to add to my list of favourites. I almost read it in one go because I could just not put it down!
My rating: 5+ stars.