I have a very vivid and clear image of when I first read Rebecca. I was about 11 or 12, it was a bleak and snowy winter (back in the days we had bleak and snowy winters). I read the whole book one Sunday afternoon, huddled in front of a roaring coal fire. Every now and then I would scurry through the icy house to the kitchen, which was always cosy and warm thanks to our beloved Wedgewood blue Aga. I'd prepare a feast of buttery marmite on toast and steaming hot tea and take it back to the fireside and Rebecca.
The scene where the vampiric Mrs Danvers tries to persuade the timid and quivering Mrs De Winter to jump to her death is spellbindingly chilling. Rebecca was always my favourite Daphne Du Maurier book, until I discovered My Cousin Rachel a couple of years ago. An even darker, more troubling and very perplexing book.
Today Madam Noir and I found ourselves at the Tyneside Cinema, watching the Hitchcock version of Rebecca. I love the film too. It captures the gothic murkiness of the book well. I was looking forward to an afternoon in the comfy, squashy Tyneside seats in the company of Rebecca. What Madam Noir and I didn't realise was that this was a 'Book Club' presentation. My heart sank when a tweedy, blue-stockinged, be-spectacled professor of 'Women's Studies' stood up to 'introduce the film'. My heart sank flatter than a duck's instep when, in her flat midwestern accent, she droningly announced that after the film we would discuss the film's main themes of obsession, gothicism and love. Oh dear. If there is one thing I know for sure (to quote Oprah), it is that a tweedy fuckwit academic bent on pedantic deconstruction will soon suck the joy out of any work of art. Judging by the way Madam Noir was shifting wormily in her seat I knew she was less than enamored at the prospect of protracted literary debate.
'don't worry.' I whispered 'As soon as the end credits roll, we'll run like the wind.'
And that is exactly what we did (along with quite a few other desperate souls). We ran past the disapproving blue-stocking into the open arms of John Lewis for some lipstick browsing.
Anyway, I enjoyed seeing Rebecca on the big screen. One theme that I was very aware of today was how, well, how sleazy Max is. A middle-aged man, hooking up with a child bride. He does nothing but belittle and patronise her throughout. When I was 11/ 12 I thought him a terribly romantic character. Flawed, troubled, brooding, reserved. . . . . a 24 carat swarthy rogue! Just the kind of murderous ne-re-do-well I would fall for myself.
Anyway, before the film started I told Madam Noir that when I was young I fell in love with Rebecca's bedroom. I've searched everywhere for some images of it, to post here. It is the most beautiful room. There is a terribly sensual and erotic scene, where the ascetic Mrs Danvers shows Mrs de Winter around Rebecca's opulent room. She opens drawers piled with lace underwear, strokes luxuriant furs, lays her wan cheek on embroidered silk sheets, smells Rebecca's perfume. I think that one scene must have sparked my love of interior design and soft furnishings. Although, it is hard to recreate the silken splendor of that room in a 1930s suburban semi, I do try though!