I am Mrs de Winter now.
Summary – Du Maurier’s unnamed heroine marries the troubled widower Maxim de Winter – but the memory of his former wife exerts a menacing influence over her new home.
The Perfect Drink – Pair Rebecca with a hot cup of lapsang souchong tea. It has a resinous, smoky flavour, ideal for a novel that’s haunted throughout by a devastating fire. Like Rebecca, this tea is rich, distinctive and intense – savour its warm, woody flavour for an unexpected twist on a traditional afternoon tea.
The Perfect Snack – Stranded in her continental hotel, the narrator of Rebecca remembers tea time at Manderley in homesick, mouthwatering detail: ‘Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now.’ Tea at Manderley is a ‘solemn ritual’, an elaborate feast of sandwiches, cakes, scones and fresh fruit, served punctually at half past four. We think it would be fitting to pair a reading of Rebecca with your very own tea time. We recommend Cornish flavours, like warm scones with thick, yellow clotted cream and fresh strawberry jam. Piping hot crumpets with butter and lime marmalade would also be a good choice – the marmalade is a vibrant citrus green, the colour of envy. For something a little savoury you could try slices of nettle-wrapped Cornish Yarg – a cheese that’s lemony and creamy at the edges, nutty and crumbly towards the core. The idea is to evoke that visceral nostalgia for an English high tea that haunts the narrator in her life of exile.
The Perfect Place – Rebecca would ideally be read by the sea. Set first in the Mediterranean Monte Carlo and later in coastal Cornwall, the novel is packed with vivid seascapes. If you’re not able to get to the coast, aim to read du Maurier’s classic on a hot summer’s day. Much of the story takes place in oppressive, stifling heat as the protagonist longs for the rain to break – and for Manderly’s secrets to be exposed.
A Note on the Quote – A few years ago we read Jasper Fforde’s The Fourth Bear, in which DCI Horner gives Jack Spratt the memorable advice:
‘… if anyone tries to get the better of you, stand up straight and say to yourself in an imperious air, ‘I am the new Mrs. de Winter now!’ You’ll find it works wonders.’
Now whenever we have a stressful ordeal ahead, like an exam or an interview, it’s become a tradition to tell ourselves ‘I am Mrs de Winter now!’ You should give it a try!
How would you read Rebecca? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.