Sally Beauman's Rebecca's Tale
is an ambitious sequel to Daphne du Maurier's much-loved Rebecca
, a classic tale of love and death. Beauman dares to tell the story of the enigmatic first mistress of Manderley, and not only proves herself a brave woman, but a storyteller of exceptional style and skill. Written as a "companion" rather than a sequel, the author succeeds in breathing life into the long-dead bones of the magnificent Rebecca and has furnished us with an alternative version of the events that would ultimately lead to her tragic death and the destruction of her beloved home.
The book opens on April 12, 1951, the 20th anniversary of Rebecca's death. "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again", writes Colonel Julyan, an old family friend of the de Winters. As old age and ill health threaten to overtake him, 20 years of doubt about the true cause of Rebecca's death are sharply reawakened with the arrival of an anonymous parcel containing a small black notebook entitled Rebecca's Tale. Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger, recently arrived in the locality, appears equally determined to find answers to the string of inconsistencies raised by Rebecca's life and death. The Colonel and his dutiful daughter Ellie are both drawn to the handsome, intelligent Terence Grey but both are wary and wonder if he really is what he appears to be.
As the plot twists and turns, the revelations are both shocking and inevitable. Favourite characters--spooky Mrs Danvers and Jack Favell, Rebecca's reckless cousin-drift in and out. This is a big book (495 pages), yet, once begun, most will find it difficult to put down-just as well for there are so many complexities it doesn't do to take your time. Ultimately, Rebecca's Tale offers its own version of events, yet for du Maurier fans, it is reassuring in that it raises many more. And, cleverly, Beauman has added her own, somehow more relevant sub-plot. Perhaps the "truth" about Rebecca's life is only as important as the legacy she left those whose lives she touched. What they choose to do with it, and how they choose to live their lives, is the central issue here. This novel will appeal to anyone who has ever read Rebecca and, thanks to her finely woven plot and subtle undercurrents of hope and inspiration, it will appeal just as much to those who have not. --Carey Green
The artful Sally Beauman plays extremely clever games with the staples of popular fiction, moving the pieces to make original and intriguing patterns ... A hugely entertaining read, seriously romantic and with a terrific sense of atmosphere. Sally Beauman's control of her complex material is absolute Kate Saunders, DAILY EXPRESS Compelling, absorbing, captivating, haunting- Sally Beauman's most ambitious and imaginative book so far Elaine Showalter REBECCA'S TALE is bold and clever...In this evocative and compulsive reworking of the balance of power between the sexes, Sally Beauman steers her creation into feminist territory and succeeds in overturning our loyalties. Elizabeth Buchan, THE TIMES Once you start reading a Beauman book, you can't put it down, as Rebecca's Tale attests...I felt satisfied that she had done an extraordinary thing; she convinced me that the Rebecca of these assorted memories really was the Rebecce that du Maurier's novel Linda Grant, GUARDIAN
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