I hesitate to call it a ‘reimaging’ of ‘‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier because it is entirely it’s own beast, however I would say it is a homage. From the changed roles-Mrs Danvers to Dani, Maxim De Winter to Max Winter-the function that they play is the same .
The nameless narrator- again, as with the original, completely blown away by how a writer can create a whole book without a name for the main character-is a ship/tourist boat operator in the Cayman Island, an orphan and completely dependant on the odious millionaire Laureen.
A South African tour operator with dubious morals, she has the narrator locked up tight due to having paid her dying father’s hospital bills. As long as boats need taking out to ferry multi-millionaires around the Caymans, the narrator will have no choice but to be at Laureen’s beck and call.
Disaster strikes when a yacht containing ‘minor royals’ crashes into coral, the resulting oil spill killing off a rare bird sanctuary. As Laureen dashes off to minimise the damage to her business-no regard for the birds!-the narrator is left to tend to the increasingly frequent visits from Max Winter. He is described as a senator visiting the island to move money from one account to another.
A widower who abandoned his senatorship after the death of his Russian wife, Rebekah, he is on his own as his daughter, Dani, is going through her teenage rebel phase in France. Max and the narrator gradually get closer and closer, to the consternation of Laureen who has been told by her staff that she has been taking Max out daily-and nightly.
Rushing back, Laureen tells the narrator that she wants her to fly to Barbados immediately, necessitating a race against time to get to max before they are forever parted. Max surprises her with a proposal of marriage and Laureen warns her sternly, against taking up with such an older man who had a ‘bombshell’ of a dead wife in the background.
This is a superb part of the book where the narrator wrestles with herself about her chance for freedom-
”For behaving like a wanton local who deceived herself into thinking a rich tourist , passing time while moving his fortune from one account into another might have loved her. Stupidly, yes, I was in love with Max Winter , in the way only young women fall in love, swiftly, unscientifically, mind, heart and body in complete and total collusion.”
Reader, she runs away with him.
They arrive at Asherley, the family seat in Long Island, where the second Mrs W realises just what she has bitten off.
Haunted everywhere she looks by her predecessor, and judged unworthy by her step-daughter and household staff as too young to run Asherley, Mrs W has a fight on her hands to retain the magical connection she and Max made in the Caymans.
It is an actual and literal crash down to earth and as a reader, you find yourself rooting for Mrs W to fight for her marriage, bury the dead and put the awful stepdaughter in her place.
‘Rebecca’ is one of my favourite books of all time, but as with my previous post where I discussed being ‘out of your comfort zone’ I put doubts to one side and surrendered completely to the ghost story, psychological thriller and mystery that Lisa Gabrielle has created.