Rebecca's Taleby Sally Beauman, Daphne du Maurier
For anyone who has ever dreamed of going to Manderly again...
Though Rebecca de Winter has been dead for 20 years, her memory still haunts those who loved her. Her old friend and ally, Colonel Julyan, was the local magistrate at the time of her death. He had the painful task of investigating its circumstances. And though the secrets he learned during the/i>… See more details below
For anyone who has ever dreamed of going to Manderly again...
Though Rebecca de Winter has been dead for 20 years, her memory still haunts those who loved her. Her old friend and ally, Colonel Julyan, was the local magistrate at the time of her death. He had the painful task of investigating its circumstances. And though the secrets he learned during the inquiry have stayed with him, the burden of that knowledge is heavy, and there are things he has yet to find out.
Julyan enlists the help of his daughter, Ellie, and Tom Gray, a young scholar with a mysterious past of his own. With the discovery of Rebecca's diary, they each, for their own reasons, pursue the truth about the enigmatic woman's death, and try to piece together the mysterious story of her life.
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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 country roads here are narrow and twisting, making many detours around the creeks and coves that cut into our coastline; but it is swiftly reached by boat. In my youth, I often sailed across there with Maxim de Winter in my dinghy. We used to moor in the bay below Manderley-the bay where, decades later, under mysterious circumstances, his young wife Rebecca would die.
I made a small sound in my throat, which Ellie pretended not to hear. She continued to look out across the water toward the Manderley headland, to the rocks that mark the point, to the woods that protect and shield the house from view. I thought she might speak then, but she didn't; she gave a small sigh, left the casement open a little as I'd requested, then turned away with a resigned air. She left the curtains half-drawn, settled me for sleep, and then with one last anxious and regretful glance left me alone with the past.
A thin bright band of moonlight bent into the room; on the air came a breath of salt and sea freshness: Rebecca rose up in my mind. I saw her again as I first saw her, when I was ignorant of the power she would come to exert on my life and my imagination (that I possess any imagination at all is something most people would deny). I watched her enter, then re-enter, then re-enter again that great mausoleum of a drawing room at Manderley-a room, indeed an entire house, that she would shortly transform. She entered at a run, bursting out of the bright sunlight, unaware anyone was waiting for her: a bride of three months; a young woman-in a white dress, with a tiny blue enamelled butterfly brooch pinned just above her heart.
I watched her down the corridor of years. Again and again, just as she did then, she came to a halt as I stepped out . . .Rebecca's Tale. Copyright (c) by Sally Beauman . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet 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.
- London, England
- Date of Birth:
- July 25, 1944
- Place of Birth:
- Torquay, Devon, England
- B.A. in English Literature, Hons Cantab, 1966; M. A., Hons Cantab, 1969
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