Nov. 5, 2020

Chilly, Twisted Love: Rebecca

Chilly, Twisted Love: Rebecca

In this episode, I talk about the classic romantic suspense novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and the sexy 2020 Netflix adaptation.

<p>The full Alfred Hitchcock version of Rebecca from 1940.</p>

<p>The 2020 Netflix Rebecca trailer.</p>

<p>The Rebecca episode from A Novel Adaptation.</p>


This is Confessions of a Closet Romantic, a podcast where I talk about romantic books , movies, TV shows and why I love them so much—without embarassment or shame. Well, mostly!This is Poppy and in this episode: the twisted romance of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

I had a chance to watch the new Netflix version of Rebecca and it reminded me how I once killed an entire book club with my choice to read this Daphne du Maurier novel. 

This was back in the day when book clubs were a fairly new thing. I was such a voracious reader I thought : what could be better than sitting around drinking wine or coffee with my smart friends, talking about books?

Except my smart and funny friends only wanted to chat and laugh with each other, not necessarily read books. The club was going about six months and it was my turn to pick the book.

There was a lot of pressure because few of these ladies had ever read the entire book. in the entire history of the book club! So as the organizer, I needed to turn the tide.

 I knew Rebecca was made into Hitchcock movie, I knew it was a romance / suspense story, Love that combo. I’d always wanted to read it. It sounded atmospheric and creepy and I thought reading it together in fall, with a chill in  the air might be fun.

To be honest I only made it through the first third of the book.  I realized that I loved the story (I’d seen the Hitchcock movie already)but  I wasn't crazy about Daphne du Maurier’s style. It's like Nathaniel Hawthorne for me – love the stories, but don't like style used to tell them.

I showed up at book club and couldn't wait  to hear what everybody else thought. I was ready to defend why I didn't finish the book. The group was loud, chatty and over-caffeinated when I got there. We started the meeting and…. Nobody had read the book!! 

Not one of the six ladies had even cracked it open. It was just a blip  in the conversation—nobody seemed especially concerned.

 So to recap: We all got dressed and drove over to the coffee shop to meet for a book club meeting where... nobody actually read the book. I’m betting not one of them had even read the back jacket copy.

I talked about my impressions of the book and difficulty finishing but YAWN. So my first and only bookclub selection completely fizzled. 

 Not long after that, I let the bookclub go. I mean if you're not reading then you're not really in a book club, are you? 

I used to have a rule that I would always read any book that a movie or TV series was based on first.  I’ve broken that rule many times recently, especially for Rebecca. Ahem for obvious reasons … though a well-done production will often drive me back to the original book so that's a good thing. 

The atmospheric 1940s Alfred Hitchcock version of Rebecca with Lawrence  Olivier and Joan Fontaine and a slew of fantastic character actors is wonderful. And there have been other filmed versions but recently Netflix took a stab at the story.

It's well-cast and visually stunning, sexy, not quite mysterious enough for me but still well worth the time. Rebecca's Miss Havisham bedroom in icy shades of blue is worth a look alone.

[film clip]

Case you haven't read it like me, Rebecca is a 1938 novel by British writer Daphne du Maurier. 

It’s narrated by a young woman who works as a lady's maid, and falls in love with the wealthy, charming but secretive Maxim de Winter while on holiday with this lady in the  South of France. He owns Manderley on the Cornish coast, one of the largest estates in England. 

They decide to get married after a whirlwind romance.  After their honeymooon, the second Mrs de Winter attempts to take on the role of mistress of Manderley. She quickly discovers that Maxim's first wife, Rebecca died in a mysterious boating accident and her memory haunts the place, run by the creepy housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers.

[film clip]

Lilly James as the second Mrs. de Winter in Netflix's Rebecca hits the exact right tone– she's beautiful, quietly confident but young and inexperienced enough to be thrown off by the massive house and its creepy housekeeper. 

Armie Hammer as Maxim is the right blend of charismatic, hunky sex bomb and aloof master of Manderley. Laurence Olivier plays Maxim in the Hitchcock version but Hammer definitely has more than a hope in hell of attracting a gorgeous young second wife in the Netflix version.

If you’ve seen any of the adaptations or read the book —unlike me —I highly recommend the podcast A Novel Adaptation. The hosts are two funny and sharp  ladies who explore classic novels and their screen adaptations. Their episode on Rebecca is so enjoyable. 

They dive deep into book versus Hitchcock film and their banter and yes gurrl! and head scratching moments about the film vs. book  match my own in a hilarious way. 

I ‘ll put a link to their Rebecca episode and link to the full Rebecca movie in the show notes so you can see for yourself.

Any sound effects you hear are courtesy of the good people at under a creative commons license. Find show notes with links to what I've been babbling about at 

Thanks for listening! Until next time, happy shame-free romance. Even if you haven't read the book.