I am not Rebecca–a sort of book review

I despised the beginning of Rebecca, a tedious, drawn-out slog through the ruins of an English estate. And I felt scorn for the narrator, too, a fearful lower-class woman who married up and hid from the servants so they wouldn’t catch her behaving inappropriately. She constantly felt she didn’t measure up to her husband’s first wife, Rebecca, a beautiful, fearless woman.

I wanted to shout at her: “Suck it up, girl! Just stop worrying about every little thing!”

Then about page 144, it hit me. She is me.

(I know, “She is I.”)

The narration that was getting on my nerves could have come from inside my own head (if I lived on an upper-class country estate surrounded by servants), double-guessing myself  and being uncertain about every little thing–being timid (and squeamish, too).

Here, the narrator tries to explain to her husband why she hates visiting people, a social obligation she is forcing herself through:

“I try every day, every time I go out or meet anyone new. I’m always making efforts. You don’t understand. It’s all very well for you, you’re used to that sort of thing. I’ve not been brought up to it.”

“Rot,” said Maxim, “it’s not a question of bringing up, as you put it. It’s a matter of application. You don’t think I like calling on people, do you? It bores me stiff. But it has to be done, in this part of the world.”

“We’re not talking about boredom,” I said, “there’s nothing to be afraid of in being bored. If I was just bored it would be different. I hate people looking me up and down as though I were a prize cow.”

“Who looks you up and down?”

“All the people down here. Everybody.”

“What does it matter if they do? It gives them some interest in life.”

“Why must I be the one to supply the interest, and have all the criticism?”

“Because life at Manderlay is the only thing that ever interests anybody down here.”

“What a slap in the eye I must be to them then.”

It was exciting later in the book when she grew some cojones and started talking back!

Since I started this blog, I have been working to get out of my comfort zone. My internal monologue has changed some for the better. Why should I feel fearful about walking into a room? I know I shouldn’t, and yet…

As for getting out of my comfort zone, I see that it’s not really a matter of getting out of my comfort zone, but of expanding the boundaries bit by bit so that I have a little more breathing room.

For the rest of Rebecca, I was hooked, but it did turn into a bit of a soap opera toward the end. It was a selection by my local library’s classics book club, the Cheshire Cats. Get it?

Have you found yourself identifying with any literary characters?

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.

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16 Responses to I am not Rebecca–a sort of book review

  1. sammy says:

    Hi Marcy … It’s amazing the difference between how people see you and how you see yourself! I think of you as this strong women putting herself out there and achieving awesome goals – I never see the uncertain, timid and squeamish background person you talk about. You definately are Rebecca!
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  2. Aaaah…this is a great post! I love the pic of you too 😀
    Shannon ~ My Place In The Race recently posted..Hot Wings, Beer & My Favorite MonthMy Profile

  3. Carol Apple says:

    Hello Marcy. I am so excited to have found your exciting blog through She Writes. What a wonderful topic. I also love reading the classics (and also blogging about them) but can you believe I have not yet read Rebecca? Will have to bump it up on my “to read” list right away. I’m going to check out your Join a Classics Book Club post.
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  4. Shannon says:

    Oh, REBECCA is one of my favorite books of all time. And I love all the stuff when she first arrives — probably because I knew from my first reading that she and I were one in the same. I could (and unfortunately still can) see myself being bullied by servants and doing stupid things because I was insecure.

    Love this post! 🙂

    • Marcy says:

      I would definitely get pushed around by the servants! I don’t think I would ever get used to it–good thing I don’t have to worry about that, I guess. 🙂

  5. Greetings, Marcy! SheWrites sister here. Rebecca is an interesting book, very skillfully crafted (though I’m with you on the super-slow start). In the beginning, she doesn’t even have her own name (and I don’t recall what her name actually was, lol!) She learns to craft an identity, as we all do, one step at a time.
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  6. Claire says:

    I’ve picked ‘Rebecca’ up numerous times when I’ve been volunteering in our little english library here, but never taken her home, I think its about time!

    Loved this post and amazing what a little bit of space does, love how you made the metaphor so visual, you really know how to show not tell!

    Look forward to reading more …
    Claire recently posted..Secret Gardens and the ImaginationMy Profile

  7. Read it the summer before ninth grade, am forty-three now and I still get the shivers thinking about Mrs. Danvers! Fabulous post; found you on SITS and look forward to reading more.
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