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Rebecca's Tale
Cover of Rebecca's Tale
Rebecca's Tale
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April 1951. It has been twenty years since the death of Rebecca, the hauntingly beautiful first wife of Maxim de Winter, and twenty years since Manderley, the de Winter family's estate, was destroyed by fire. But Rebecca's tale is just beginning.

Colonel Julyan, an old family friend, receives an anonymous package concerning Rebecca. An inquisitive young scholar named Terence Gray appears and stirs up the quiet seaside hamlet with questions about the past and the close ties he soon forges with the Colonel and his eligible daughter, Ellie. Amid bitter gossip and murky intrigue, the trio begins a search for the real Rebecca and the truth behind her mysterious death.

April 1951. It has been twenty years since the death of Rebecca, the hauntingly beautiful first wife of Maxim de Winter, and twenty years since Manderley, the de Winter family's estate, was destroyed by fire. But Rebecca's tale is just beginning.

Colonel Julyan, an old family friend, receives an anonymous package concerning Rebecca. An inquisitive young scholar named Terence Gray appears and stirs up the quiet seaside hamlet with questions about the past and the close ties he soon forges with the Colonel and his eligible daughter, Ellie. Amid bitter gossip and murky intrigue, the trio begins a search for the real Rebecca and the truth behind her mysterious death.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. These dreams are now recurring with a puzzling frequency, and I've come to dread them. All of the Manderley dreams are bloodcurdling and this one was the worst—no question at all.

    I cried out Rebecca's name in my sleep, so loudly that it woke me. I sat bolt upright, staring at darkness, afraid to reach for the light switch in case that little hand again grasped mine. I heard the sound of bare feet running along' the corridor; I was still inside the dream, still reliving that appalling moment when the tiny coffin began to move. Where had I been taking it? Why was it so small?

    The door opened, a thin beam of light fingered the walls, and a pale shape began to move quietly toward me. I made a cowardly moaning sound. Then I saw this phantom was wrapped up in a dressing gown and its hair was disheveled. I began to think it might be my daughter—but was she really there, or was I dreaming her, too? Once I was sure it was Ellie, the palpitations diminished and the dream slackened its hold. Ellie hid her fears by being practical. She fetched warm milk and aspirin; she lit the gas fire, plumped up my pillows, and attacked my wayward eiderdown. Half an hour later, when we were both calmer, my nightmare was blamed on willfulness—and my weakness for late-night snacks of bread and cheese.

    This fictitious indigestion was meant to reassure me—and it provided a good excuse for all Ellie's anxious questions concerning pain. Did I have an ache in the heart region? (Yes, I did.) Any breathing difficulties? "No, I damn well don't," I growled. "It was just a nightmare, that's all. Stop fussing, Ellie, for heaven's sake, and stop flapping around . . . "

    "Mousetrap!" said my lovely, agitated, unmarried daughter. "Why don't you listen, Daddy? If I've warned you once, I've warned you a thousand times . . . "

    Well, indeed. I've never been good at heeding anyone's warnings, including my own.

    I finally agreed that my feeling peckish at eleven P.M. had been to blame; I admitted that eating my whole week's ration of cheddar (an entire ounce!) in one go had been rash, and ill-advised. A silence ensued. My fears had by then receded; a familiar desolation was taking hold. Ellie was standing at the end of my bed, her hands gripping its brass foot rail. Her candid eyes rested on my face. It was past midnight. My daughter is blessed with innocence, but she is nobody's fool. She glanced at her watch. "It's Rebecca, isn't it?" she said, her tone gentle. "It's the anniversary of her death today—and that always affects you, Daddy. Why do we pretend?"

    Because it's safer that way, I could have replied. It's twenty years since Rebecca died, so I've had two decades to learn the advantages of such pretences. That wasn't the answer I gave, however; in fact, I made no answer at all. Something perhaps the expression in Ellie's eyes, perhaps the absence of reproach or accusation in her tone, perhaps simply the fact that my thirty-one-year-old daughter still calls me "Daddy"—something at that point pierced my heart. I looked away, and the room blurred.

    I listened to the sound of the sea, which, on calm nights when the noise of the wind doesn't drown it out, can be heard clearly in my bedroom. It was washing against the rocks in the inhospitable cove below my garden: high tide. "Open the window a little, Ellie," I said.

    Ellie, who is subtle, did so without further comment or questions. She looked out across the moonlit bay toward the headland opposite, where Manderley lies. The great de Winter house, now in a state of ruination, is little more than a mile away as the crow flies. It seems remote when approached by land, for our...

About the Author-
  • Sally Beauman is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist who began her career at New York magazine. Her internationally bestselling novels, including Rebecca's Tale, her sequel to Daphne du Maurier's iconic work, have been translated into more than twenty languages. She has written for The New Yorker, the Sunday Times, and numerous other leading periodicals on both sides of the Atlantic.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 30, 2001
    Published more than 60 years ago, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca
    still captivates, at least partly because of its insistent ambiguity: we never learn definitively whether Maxim de Winter murdered his stunning first wife, Rebecca, or why Maxim so hastily remarried a mousy younger woman, famously unnamed. Selected by the du Maurier estate, Beauman (Destiny) has written a "companion" to Rebecca
    that preserves, and even deepens, the earlier novel's crafty evasions. Set in 1951, two decades after Rebecca's death was ruled a suicide, Beauman's story opens with the same (now famous) sentence as the earlier book: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." Elderly, ailing Colonel Arthur Julyan was magistrate in the district when the legendary de Winter mansion mysteriously burned to the ground. Julyan's last days are disturbed by the intrusive visits of Terence Gray, a Scottish academic who claims to be writing a book about Rebecca's death. Then both Julyan's sharp daughter Ellie and Gray, who has secrets of his own, become rattled when Rebecca's personal effects begin arriving at the Julyan home. One of the anonymously sent packages contains Rebecca's journal, written just before her death—a possible Rosetta stone. Beauman expertly tells Rebecca's tale from four different perspectives—Julyan's, Gray's, Ellie's and, most vividly, Rebecca's—without settling which version is nearest the truth. Though a composite Rebecca emerges—depressive, possibly schizophrenic, promiscuous, fearless and almost certainly "dangerous"—Beauman merely hints at a biological cause, raising titillating, though fully plausible, possibilities. This lushly imagined sequel, which cleverly reproduces the cadences of du Maurier's prose, resurrects Manderley without sweeping away all the artful old cobwebs. Readers should pounce. Agent, Peter Matson. 15-city NPR campaign. (Oct. 2)Forecast:While
    Rebecca may not be familiar to younger readers (though the 1940 Hitchcock film starring Laurence Olivier is a classic), Beauman's seductive sequel should do well on its own and also prompt interest in the original, which is being reissued in mass market.

  • Detroit Free Press

    "If you've never read 'Rebecca,' Beauman's book is still a cracking good read."

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