Near the end of Rebecca Maxim’s first wife’s body is found in a capsized boat in the bay. At first they think she drowned on a stormy night but after further investigation they suspect it was murder. There is an inquest and the verdict was suicide. Before they leave for home the second Mrs. de Winter starts having bad dreams. The next evening they are nearing home when they notice the red sky to the west and as they get closer they realize that Manderley is burning. They watch the old family home burn down before their eyes. Within a few days they leave the country for Switzerland and their isolation begins.
Susan Hill has written a sequel to Rebecca titled Mrs de Winter. In this book they are still in Europe living in a hotel which is one of many they have occupied over the years. They get word that Maxim’s sister has passed away and they prepare to return to England for the funeral. Mrs. de Winter finds a floral wreath at the grave with a card with the letter R in a heavy slanted writing just like Rebecca’s. She keeps this to herself and is tormented by this and wonders who could play such a nasty trick on them. They stay there for a few weeks before going to Scotland to visit with a friend on his estate. After some months Maxim purchases a property in a different part of England and they return. Mrs. de Winter continues to have dreams and is haunted by Rebecca’s ghost even when they return. She seems unable to leave the past behind or even share her fears with her husband and runs into two people who were involved in Rebecca’s life. These two people are determined to get revenge as they both believe Maxim did murder his first wife. For awhile it looks like they might settle down to their new life but things take an unexpected turn near the end. This is a book you will have dificulties putting down.
Sally Beauman wrote Rebecca’s Tale which is another book about Rebecca. A young scholar sends a postcard of Rebecca as a child and picture of Mandeley to Colonel Julyan. Terence Gray appears in town shortly afterwards. He forms close ties with Colonel Julyan and his young daughter. He starts digging into the past to find out what the real Rebecca was like. Was she the manipulative, promiscuous femme fatale her husband claimed, or the Gothic heroine of tragic proportions that others have suggested? Was her death really suicide, or was it murder? This is a book you will have difficulties putting down and could surprise you.
I have started to reread Rebecca and will also reread Rebecca’s tale as it has been a long time since I read them. I had to search my bookshelves to find my copy of Rebecca.