On the twentieth anniversary of the death of Rebecca, the hauntingly beautiful first wife of Maxim de Winter, family friend Colonel Julyan receives an anonymous parcel. It contains a black notebook with two handwritten words on the title page -- Rebecca's Tale -- and two pictures: a photograph of Rebecca as a young child and a postcard of Manderley. Rebecca once asked Julyan to ensure she was buried in the churchyard facing the sea: if she ended up in the de Winter crypt, she warned, she'd come back to haunt him. Now, it seems, she has finally kept her promise. Julyan's conscience has never been clear over the official version of Rebecca's death. Was Rebecca the manipulative, promiscuous femme fatale her husband claimed. Or the gothic heroine of tragic proportions that others had suggested. The official story, the 'truth', has only had Maxim's version of events to consider. But all that is about to change ...
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(198mm x 131mm x 32mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Writing the sequel to a well known, much loved novel is a dangerous and rarely successful endeavour. Very occasionally the sequel takes on a life of its own and becomes an outstanding novel in its own right, with little to tether it to the original. Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, for example, told the story of the mad first Mrs. Rochester from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. It is a wonderful read, utterly independent of Jane Eyre. Sally Beauman fails to achieve anything like this success. She obliterates the mystery and atmosphere of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca by explaining it all away. She even misjudges irony to the extent of opening with; 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again', a cheap trick which was also attempted in the sequel to Pride and Prejudice. This time it isn't the mousy second wife of Max de Winter speaking but Colonel Julyan, a minor character in the original and now the first of narrators in Rebecca's Tale. Set twenty years after Rebecca's death and the destruction of Manderlay, Beauman introduces a cast of characters who are sympathisers of the apparently much maligned Rebecca. Colonel Julyan now claims to have been in love with Rebecca and one of the families closest friends. He is beset by guilt for failing to prevent her being buried in the family crypt and for allowing her reputation as a faithless, sadistic, unscrupulous, amoral woman to take root. The whole novel challenges Max de Winter's justification for killing her and reverts to the notion that he was simply insanely jealous and introduces the idea that his class and upbringing destined him never to understand or love the bohemian spirit he married. This attempt to politicise the original text is doomed to failure and the final narrator, Ellie, Colonel Julyan's youngest daughter is given a laughable exit line meant to satisfy both feminist principles and the demands of romantic fiction, predictably fulfilling neither. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Sally Beauman
Sally Beauman has had great critical and commercial success with all her novels: DESTINY, DARK ANGEL and the series LOVERS AND LIARS, DANGER ZONES and SEXTET have been translated into over twenty languages and have been bestsellers worldwide.