I read this book some years ago as I am a big fan of Rebecca. As a fairly new reviewer to Amazon I decided it was about time I gave my own opinion about this sequel.
I feel rather sorry for the author Susan Hill, as this book has been heavily slated throughout the years. Lets face it, it is not an easy task to carry on where Daphne du Maurier left off from what was one of the major classic novels of the 20th century. In all said and done she did her best and did at least try to weave du Maurier's style of writing into the story. I felt she did get the nameless heroine's personality just to a tee. Maybe a number of critics did find Mrs de Winter rather gauche, irritating and pathetic, but lets not forget that was the way she was portrayed in the original book and how du Maurier wanted her character to be perceived in the story. To have changed her personality would have ruined the whole plot to the original book. I agree that Max was an awful condescending snob, very much of the old school, but again, he was the epitome of what men of that class were like in those days. What Susan Hill did was to keep the characters in the old tradition of that period, and she did this well. People seem to forget that women took second place to their husbands in those days before the 1960's. Whether or not another reviewer found Mrs de Winter annoying is neither here nor there, surely her timid character was the whole point of the story? It should be reminded that this story is meant to take place over 60 years ago, and surely Rebecca was supposed to be everything she was not? I actually felt rather story for the nameless heroine.
I do quite agree that the book was slow moving, gloomy and dreary, and yes, it did take a while to get-to-the-point. I also feel the author didn't bring her own originality into the story, but stuck to the straight and narrow making some chapters quite similar to the original (but nowhere near as good) right down to the scene of the housewarming party nearing the end of the book. Boring as the sequel was, lets be honest and admit Susan Hill did write in an unexpected twist to the ending. I wasn't expecting that, and although it was very sad I feel that it was the right one, as Max de Winter was a very tormented man. Another thing Susan Hill did nail right was the shadowy atmosphere throughout the story. The original was not a particularly happy book. Sadly the story did seem to drone on with too many boring descriptions of uninteresting landscape etc. I must admit the dialogue was a bit stiff and starchy and generally off all the way through.
Daphne du Maurier's original was a tough act to follow for any author, but apart from those few negative comments I still feel this book is an interesting read and a must for all fans of the original book. Rebecca's Tale by Sally Beauman puts a different style on a later sequel that you may also find interesting.
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