I have become the literary equivalent of a food taster: People throw books at me so I can try them out and let them know if they’re worth reading. That’s where this blog came from and how I came to read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. It’s unlikely I would have picked this book on my own after reading (and strongly disliking) Flynn’s first book, Dark Places. To her credit, Flynn’s writing and pacing have come a long way since then—the story is better balanced, her characters have more unique voices, and while it’s still predictable, it’s very entertaining. Such improvement between her first and third books actually has me excited for her fourth. read more
Daphne duMaurier’s Rebecca, first published in 1938, has been on my list of favorites since I was given a copy a decade ago. The book’s biggest weakness is the cover: recent printings are teal and pink with flowing script; other editions feature gold lettering over a red silk background (as shown). It often looks as though it belongs among books with Fabio-esque men on the cover, which makes it a hard sell to friends. But it really, really, is not like that.
At the outset, the unnamed narrator is on holiday as companion to the hilariously gauche Mrs. Van Hopper. While there, she meets Maxim de Winter, Rebecca’s widower. After a brief courtship, the narrator becomes the second Mrs. de Winter and returns with Maxim to Manderley. Since Rebecca’s death, the housekeeper has preserved the house as a shrine and Mrs. de Winter finds herself in competition with Rebecca’s ghost. Being introverted and naive, she believes herself a poor replacement of someone so vibrant, beautiful, and intelligent. The first half of the novel is her struggle to carve a place for herself in the house. It’s hard to describe how engaging and suspenseful this book is without giving away the ending, so you’ll have to take my word that this scant summation of plot doesn’t do the novel justice. read more