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Literapedia Book Notes for
by Daphne Du Maurier
Mrs. de Winter
(ch. 1) - the narrator of the story; she is a young girl (in her very early 20s) who becomes the wife of Maxim de Winter.
(ch. 1) - the de Winter family estate.
(ch. 1) - the loyal dog of Manderley.
(ch. 2) - the housekeeper at Manderley; she was Rebecca's personal attendant.
Mrs. Van Hopper
(ch. 2) - the blunt older woman staying in Monte Carlo who is attended to by the narrator.
Maximilian de Winter
(ch. 2) - the owner of Manderley; he is a man in his 40s and husband to the late Rebecca as well as to the narrator.
Rebecca de Winter
(ch. 4) - the first wife of Maxim de Winter.
(ch. 7) - the elder footman/butler at Manderley.
(ch. 7) - the housemaid at Manderley.
(ch. 8) - the young footman at Manderley.
(ch. 9) - Mr. de Winter’s estate manager and assistant.
(ch. 9) - Mr. de Winter’s brother-in-law.
(ch. 9) - Mr. de Winter’s sister.
(ch. 10) - a mildly retarded middle-aged man who lives down by the cottage on the beach at Manderley.
The Bishop's wife
(ch. 11) - a middle-aged woman who calls on Mrs. de Winter at Manderley.
(ch. 12) - Mrs. de Winter’s personal attendant.
Mr. Jack Favell
(ch. 13) - Rebecca’s first cousin and intimate lover.
(ch. 15) - the aging grandmother of Maxim and Beatrice.
(ch. 15) - Gran's nursemaid.
(ch. 16) - neighbor of Manderley who suggests that the de Winters revive the fancy dress ball.
(ch. 19) - the captain who is involved in the coast guard investigation of the ship run ashore.
(ch. 19) - a young boy vacationing in Kerrith who is fascinated by the divers in the Manderley cove.
(ch. 19) - they are vacationing in Kerrith when Rebecca's sailboat is discovered.
(ch. 22) - the judge overseeing the Rebecca de Winter case.
(ch. 21) - a detective in Kerrith.
(ch. 22) - the coroner who examines the body found in the boat.
(ch. 22) - the boat maker that supplied/repaired the late Rebecca de Winter with her sailboat.
(ch. 24) - they physician who kept an appointment with Rebecca the day she died.
The narrator discusses the recurring dream she has about returning to Manderley, although she makes it clear that she can never go back.
The narrator continues fanaticizing about Manderley, and her husband, Maxim. This daydreaming leads her to remember when she first met her husband. She was staying at a hotel in Monte Carlo as Mrs. Van Hopper’s companion when Maxim first entered her life.
Mrs. Van Hopper introduces herself to Maxim de Winter (the owner of Manderley and a recent widower) and an awkward conversation follows. Later on that day, the narrator receives a note, “Forgive me. I was very rude this afternoon.” There is no signature, but Mrs. Van Hopper’s young companion thinks she knows the identity of its sender.
Mrs. Van Hopper becomes ill. At lunch, Mr. de Winter invites the narrator to dine with him. The two talk throughout lunch, and he offers to drive her to a place where she can sketch. The narrator borrows a book of poetry from Maxim, which has an inscription to Max from Rebecca. The book jogs the narrator's memory, and she remembers Mrs. Van Hopper’s words about Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, who drowned the previous year.
The narrator and Maxim drive together many mornings in Monte Carlo, and the young girl falls in love with the elder gentleman. Maxim talks about wanting to forget all of his memories, and he asks the narrator to call him by his Christian name, Maxim.
Mrs. Van Hopper plans to travel to New York, and Maxim makes arrangements to go back to Manderley. He asks the narrator to marry him and come back to Manderley to live. After he arranges it all with Mrs. Van Hopper, the old woman warns the narrator that he is only lonely, rather than in love.
The newly married couple arrives at Manderley, where the entire staff is assembled to meet them. Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, shows Mrs. de Winter to her rooms in the east wing of the house. Mrs. de Winter lets Mrs. Danvers oversee running the estate, making no changes to the routine. The newlyweds have their first meal together at home, after which they resign to the library. Mrs. de Winter feels out of place, as if she is merely doing what Rebecca once did.
Life at Manderley is routine, but Mrs. de Winter is not used to it. Mrs. de Winter goes to the morning room after breakfast while Maxim goes about his business. Mrs. Danvers calls on the house phone for Mrs. de Winter to approve the daily menus, and Mrs. de Winter notices that everything she done is overshadowed by Rebecca's memory.
Mrs. de Winter gets lost and ends up in the west wing of Manderley, where she runs into Mrs. Danvers who offers to show Rebecca's rooms. Mrs. de Winter meets Beatrice and Giles Lacy (Maxim's sister and his brother-in-law), as well as Frank Crawley, the estate manager and assistant at Manderley.
Maxim and Mrs. de Winter go on a walk through the woods of the estate, and he shows her the Happy Valley filled with azaleas. When Jasper runs off, Mrs. de Winter follows him and finds a cove and beach with a cottage on it. She meets Ben, the mildly retarded man who lives in the area. She goes into the boat-house, which is dusty but a fully furnished cottage. The couple fights about Mrs. de Winter's actions, and Maxim shows distress that the cottage was unlocked.
Mrs. de Winter is called upon at Manderley by the bishop's wife, where much talk is about the past at Manderley. Much praise is given to Rebecca's poise, organization, and beauty. When Mrs. de Winter asks Frank Crawley about Rebecca, he talks about her beauty and presence, and he reveals that the boat-house cottage was furnished by Rebecca, who loved to sail. Mrs. de Winter suspects that Frank may have secretly loved Rebecca.
Mrs. de Winter becomes acquainted with her new maid, Clarice. Mrs. de Winter breaks a china ornament in the morning room and an episode with Mrs. Danvers ensues. Mrs. de Winter cannot get Maxim to tell her what he is thinking, and she becomes concerned that he is not happy that they married.
Maxim goes up to London for a few days, and Mrs. de Winter is left at Manderley to entertain herself - she goes back down to the beach in the cove, and she talks to Ben again. Mrs. Danvers entertains a visitor, Mr. Jack Favell, who tries to hide his visit from the other members of the household. When Mrs. de Winter notices his presence, he requests that Mrs. de Winter not mention the visit to Mr. de Winter.
Mrs. de Winter visits the rooms in the west wing, which she expects to be covered in sheets and dust. She finds that the rooms appear to be lived in, with clothes in the wardrobe and brushes set out on the table. Mrs. Danvers finds Mrs. de Winter looking into the rooms, and says that Rebecca's presence is throughout the house, not just in the rooms of the west wing. The entire ordeal makes Mrs. de Winter feel ill.
Mrs. de Winter goes with Beatrice to visit Gran, who, in her senility, repeatedly asks for Rebecca. Beatrice reveals that Jack Favell was Rebecca's cousin. When Mrs. de Winter returns to Manderley, Maxim has returned from London and already knows about Mr. Favell's visit to Manderley in his absence.
Neighbors encourage the de Winters to revive the fancy dress ball, and Frank agrees to organize the event. Maxim will not dress in costume as usual, but Mrs. de Winter wants to shock everyone with a surprise costume. Mrs. Danvers suggests that Mrs. de Winter study the paintings in the great hall for inspiration. On the day of the ball, Mrs. de Winter reveals herself in costume as Miss Caroline de Winter from a painting at Manderley. Maxim is horrified, and he demands that she go upstairs and change immediately.
Beatrice explains to Mrs. de Winter that Rebecca dressed up as Caroline de Winter at the last fancy dress ball. Frank, Maxim, and Giles make up a story that her costume did not fit, and Mrs. de Winters attends the ball in normal dress. Maxim and Mrs. de Winter stand beside each other receiving their guests, but Maxim does not speak a word to her. When the evening is over, Maxim does not come up to bed at all.
Mrs. de Winter confronts Mrs. Danvers about the costume suggestion, and Mrs. Danvers tells Mrs. de Winter that she hates her for trying to take Rebecca's place. Rockets signal that a ship has hit the shore in the bay.
The coast guard sends divers down into the cove to investigate the situation. Captain Searle speaks to Mrs. de Winter, and he tells her that Rebecca's small sailing boat was found intact at the bottom of the cove, and that the diver found an unidentifiable body in the cabin of the boat. Maxim is extremely distraught over the news of Rebecca's boat. He reveals to his wife that Rebecca did not drown, but rather he shot her in the cabin and then sunk her body in the sailboat.
Maxim talks of how his marriage to Rebecca was a lie, and that she was a cold and deceitful person who could fool any individual into thinking she was wonderful. He and Rebecca struck a deal early on in their marriage that if Rebecca ran Manderley, she could live as she pleased in London, as to not damage the de Winter name with divorce. She maintained a flat in London where she entertained men. On the night that Maxim shot Rebecca, she told him that she was with child, and that no one would ever know it was not Maxim's. He shot Rebecca and put her body in the cabin of the sailboat before sinking it in the cove. Mrs. de Winter realizes that Maxim was moody and never talked of Rebecca out of fear that his crime would be discovered.
The body in the cabin is identified as Rebecca's. Maxim claims that he was distressed when he identified a body to be Rebecca's the previous year. The general belief is that Rebecca was trapped below in the cabin when her sailboat sank, and the newspapers begin to call when word gets out about the boat and the body. An inquest into the matter is scheduled. Maxim notices a change in his wife's eyes - he claims that she has aged immensely in the 24 hours since he told her about killing Rebecca.
Frank, Maxim, and Mrs. de Winter go to Lanyon for the inquest. Mrs. de Winter stays outside at first, but eventually goes into the courtroom, just in time to hear the final testimony. The testimony, given by James Tabb, details the upkeep of Rebecca's sailboat. Mr. Tabb believes the sailboat had been damaged by someone, noting that Rebecca was a skilled sailor. Maxim is called back to the stand and asked about Tabb's testimony, as well as about his relations with Rebecca. The questioning is interrupted when Mrs. de Winter almost faints.
Frank takes Mrs. de Winter home to Manderley, and Maxim stays behind to go over the evidence again with the court. When Maxim finally arrives home, Rebecca's death has been deemed suicide by the court. He leaves to go the family crypt to bury Rebecca, and after he has gone, Jack Favell arrives. Upon Maxim's return, Favell accuses Maxim of murdering Rebecca, and Maxim rings Colonel Julyan to resolve the matter. Mr. Favell reads a note that Rebecca had written to him the day she died, which he says proves that Rebecca was not suicidal.
Favell's drunken laugh discredits his story in Colonel Julyan's eyes, but they resolve to look into the matter. Favell provides Ben as a witness, but Ben cannot corroborate Jack's claims. Mrs. Danvers provides a view of Rebecca's character not revealed before, as well as bringing forth Rebecca's engagement diary, which details her appointments in London on the day of her death. It has the name Baker down for 2 o'clock, and using the telephone number beside the name, the party discovers that Baker is a physician.
The group - Colonel Julyan, the de Winters, and Jack Favell - agrees to go into London the next day to meet with Doctor Baker and ask about the appointment. Mrs. Danvers locks Maxim and Mrs. de Winter into their room at night in order to prevent them from fleeing, per Jack's request.
Doctor Baker reveals that he had an appointment with a Mrs. Danvers, who was actually Rebecca under a false name. Rebecca's x-rays had shown that she had an inoperable form of cancer, as well as a malformed uterus, which prevented her from having children.
With a motive for Rebecca's suicide identified, the group parts ways. Mr. and Mrs. de Winter drive back to Manderley. Upon their arrival, they discover that Mrs. Danvers has left Manderley unannounced. Maxim and Mrs. de Winter watch Manderley go up in flames.
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