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Ain't No Other Manor But You

HEROINE OF REBECCA: Last night I dreamt of Manderley again... and it was looking fine.


HEROINE: I remember when I was twenty-one and hanging out in Monte Carlo eating dinner with Mrs Van Hopper, when a dude walked in the joint...
MRS VAN HOPPER: That’s Max de Winter. Darling, I hear he has an absolutely huge... estate, if you know what I mean.
HEROINE: I assume you mean he has a really big gorgeous house called Manderley and amazingly large grounds.
MRS VAN HOPPER: Exactly!

HEROINE: Oh hi Mr de Winter! I’m young enough to be your daughter, and should maybe mention that I am an orphan, totally vulnerable and alone in the world!
MAX: I like you. Let me tell you about my vast... tracts of land.

MAX: You want to come live in Manderley?
HEROINE: Is this a proposal of marriage, sir?
MAX: ... Don’t all proposals centre on a discussion of property?
HEROINE: Hot.

HEROINE: So Max de Winter and I are getting married.
MRS VAN HOPPER: What on earth have you been getting up to with Max de Winter, that you’re getting married after like a week?
HEROINE: Oh, you know. Riding around in his car. Listening to him talk for a long time, in really loving detail, about his house.
MRS VAN HOPPER: ... Saucy minx.

MAX: Darling, do you like Manderley?
HEROINE: I love it! Though I also find it a bit intimidating, because it is so, so big.
MAX: You’re young and inexperienced! Of course you’re a bit overwhelmed! That’s natural. Also, heh heh, it is bigger than other dudes’ houses.
HEROINE: Also something a bit sinister and mysterious about it. Maybe the fact the driveway is lined with walls of blood-red flowers or the fact the housekeeper looks like a vampire!
MAX: Don’t be ridiculous, sweetie. Just brace yourself.
MRS DANVERS: I do not drink... wine. And I do not like anybody to be called Mrs de Winter except Rebecca, Max’s dead wife.
HEROINE: ... I’m sure we’ll get on like a house on fire.

MRS DANVERS: Rebecca was totally in charge of Manderley. She set up all the furniture. She threw the best parties. Nobody is ever going to be Manderley’s mistress but Rebecca.
HEROINE: I’m sure she was super hot, but maybe Manderley can come to love again. Do you think that vase of lilac would look better over there?
MRS DANVERS: Rebecca likes it where it is.
HEROINE: Yeah, but Rebecca’s... dead, so maybe we could move the ornaments about a bit...
MRS DANVERS: I will cut you.
HEROINE: Ten-four. Vase looks great as-is!

HEROINE: Dumpling, can we maybe talk a bit about Rebecca?
MAX: Why would we talk about her? What do you know? I’M INNOCENT, I TELL YOU! STOP IT WITH YOUR MAD INTERROGATION!
HEROINE: ... Whoa. Something’s suddenly become super obvious.
HEROINE: .... I guess he’s still totally in love with Rebecca.

HEROINE: You wanna go for a walk on the beach and look at the cute cottage there, honey?
MAX: Never visit that scene of HIDEOUS CRIME ever again!
HEROINE: I don’t understand, baby.
MAX: Uh. I mean, don’t go there. It has, like, dry rot.

MAX: Sweetie, meet Frank, my agent, and my sister Beatrice.
BEATRICE: You look nothing like Rebecca! Awesome, I was afraid you’d be a husband-stealing tramp.
FRANK: Totally nothing like Rebecca! What a relief.
HEROINE: ... I wonder if I can find out what colour lipstick Rebecca bought, and buy it in bulk.

MRS DANVERS: How about you dress in a Rebecca costume for your fancy dress ball, and sweep down the stairs of Manderley like you own the place.
HEROINE: I do own the pl-
MRS DANVERS: Like you own the place and you’re totally hot.
HEROINE: Challenge accepted.
MAX: Oh God, it is the ghost of Rebecca come back to haunt me for my awful crime! Back, fiend! Back from the hell whence you came! I shall swoon!
HEROINE: ... Max, man. He just truly hates practical jokes.

MRS DANVERS: Oh hi do you want to see Rebecca’s bedroom? I enjoy coming in, and touching all her things, and lying on her bed and smelling her dressing gown!
HEROINE: That sounds super fun, but I think I left the iron on.
MRS DANVERS: PS Max was craaaaaaaaazy in love with Rebecca.
HEROINE: Yeah, it sure seems like.... Max was crazy in love with her. Yep. Totally Max.
MRS DANVERS: Why don’t you leave Manderley to her? Why don’t you go?
HEROINE: Uh, heh heh, Mrs Danvers, I’d be delighted to go, but I think you have mistaken this window for a door...

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE: Uh, Max, we found a body in a scuttled boat at the bottom of the bay? Look, I don’t want to upset the ladies, but it sure does look like you urdered-may your ife-way.
HEROINE: Uh, Mr Justice, I know I met Max in Monte Carlo, but I don’t speak French.

MAX: Okay, I’m just going to spit it out. I totally killed Rebecca.
HEROINE: Don’t understand what you mean by that...
MAX: Shot her, scrubbed out the bloodstain, dumped the body.
HEROINE: Max, you mysterious man of mystery, quit talking in code! By ‘killed’ do you mean ‘really, really super loved, definitely more than you love me?’
MAX: No. I was totally not into her.
HEROINE: So in conclusion, you murdered your previous wife, you are a killer, you married a super young helpless chick, and basically this is a Bluebeard and his castle situation.
MAX: Now you’ve got it.
HEROINE: Baby! This is great news! Why didn’t you tell me sooner?
MAX: ... Because I really did not think you would take it this well?

MAX: You see, Rebecca was a drug addict. And a sex addict. And she invited, like, really reprehensible friends to Manderley. One of them peed in the courtyard fountain.
HEROINE: ... You did the right thing, Max.
MAX: Also she told me she was up the duff with someone else’s kid, and I was not going to let Manderley go out of the family.
HEROINE: That fiend! Of course you had to kill her. I completely understand. It was for Manderley!
MAX: Wanna know something, babe? You complete me.

HEROINE: The news that my husband is a stone-cold killer has been really empowering for me! Mrs Danvers, I don’t want cold meat for lunch, I want it hot!

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE: Looks like Rebecca committed suicide, yo.
MAX: Whoo I’m getting away with murder! I mean literally getting away with literal murder! Yes! ... Why do you say that?
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE: Oh, when Rebecca said she was pregnant with someone else’s kid, what she meant was ‘had the cancer.’ That Rebecca, am I right?
MAX: .... I truly hate practical jokes.

HEROINE: Why’d you stop the car, Max?
MAX: Manderley is smokin’.
HEROINE: So everything’s as usual, then?
MAX: No, I mean, smoking as in... actually on fire.

MRS DANVERS: Lunch hot enough for you? Mwhahahahahaha!
HEROINE: .... In retrospect, sandwiches would have been fine.

HEROINE: So Max got away with murder, and we were totally in love, but none of it mattered, because without Manderley our lives were meaningless and we were dead inside!
READERS: This was not exactly the romance we signed up for...

Gothic books are often referred to as ‘girl meets house.’ House is intimidatingly tall, dark and sinister but madly attractive. Girl is scared of house! Maybe trapped in house! I mean, girls could and did feel really trapped in their own homes, way back when, whether it was in the kitchen or in the attic with the yellow wallpaper. But girls were also supposed to be at their most powerful in the house... if they could remove the lurking threat, they could be happy there, and secure both in the financial sense and in the not-getting-murdered-to-death sense. A house, a dude, the whole package.

Girls aren’t trapped in houses the same way anymore. But kids are: your parents want to move you to a sinister manor, your new address is No 1, Weird Stuff Going Down Here Lane.

But the manor in Gothic novels is beautiful as well as terrifying: fascinating, full of secrets and shadows as it is. The house is a character in a Gothic novel, and I went around a lot of English manors trying to get Aurimere in Unspoken just right: part of the reason I set the book in the Cotswolds is because there they build with stone like gold.

Part of the reason I picked Rebecca to talk about the Girl Meets House, I mean Gothic genre, dear readers, in this case art was imitating life. The author of Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier, was nineteen when she fell in love.

DAPHNE’S DIARY: (ACTUAL QUOTE) I remembered a line from a forgotten book, where a lover looks for the first time upon his chosen one—“I for this, and this for me.”

After loving from afar for years, Daphne du Maurier was at last able to be with her true love. She rented it for twenty-five years.




The kids grow up so fast, don’t they, honey?

ACTUAL OWNER OF MENABILLY: I was thinking I might like to live in my house.
DAPHNE: This is an outrage! You are breaking my heart!
ACTUAL OWNER: Lady, this is a house. Maybe be more chill.

Daphne du Maurier was not a lady who was going to be more chill. She took action! She just rented the house the next moor over.

I imagine the next years went a lot like this...

CHILDREN OF MENABILLY: Dad, there’s a weird lady outside...
OWNER OF MENABILLY: Pay no attention, kids, that’s just Mrs du Maurier.
CHILDREN OF MENABILLY: ... But Dad, she’s like... licking the windows.
OWNER OF MENABILLY: Nobody’s neighbours are perfect. Reginald! Please draw the curtains.

Comments

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elvenjaneite
Nov. 16th, 2011 03:21 am (UTC)
HEROINE: ... I’m sure we’ll get on like a house on fire.

I definitely cracked up when I got to this line!

Actually one of my very favorite-ist things to talk about with books is setting and houses and how the characters and the setting affect each other. Which makes me EVEN MORE EXCITED for Unspoken. YAY.
bredalot
Nov. 16th, 2011 03:31 am (UTC)
This was totally one of the questions on my AP Lit exam, except it was more specific in that setting = countryside. So which book did I pick to talk about? Why, Pride & Prejudice, of course.

So yes, I'm with you there! Fun. :D
(no subject) - elvenjaneite - Nov. 16th, 2011 03:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sarahtales - Nov. 16th, 2011 06:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elvenjaneite - Nov. 16th, 2011 03:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
sophieisgod
Nov. 16th, 2011 03:30 am (UTC)
Have you read Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger? Because that is 'dude meets house' and does fabulous things with class and kind of subversive things with sexuality and also ghost stories and the birth of the NHS and awkward social events and and and the whole thing is THIS ONE DUDE/HOUSE SOMEWHAT CREEPY OTP FOREVER. OH SARAH WATERS.
sarahtales
Nov. 16th, 2011 04:40 am (UTC)
I have! I liked it a lot, though it is not my very favourite Sarah Waters, which is Fingersmith. Maud/Sue OTP!
(Anonymous)
Nov. 16th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
Yessss! I adore Rebecca, but I also spent a lot of the time that I read it side-eying it so hard. Well, okay, not when I first read it--that was when I was 14 and I thought Max de Winter was soooo romantic. He was like part of the holy romance trilogy made up of him, Mr. Rochester, and the original Phantom of the Opera.

...I'm really glad I wasn't in any relationships when I was 14. Yikes.

But anyway, Rebecca is a fabulous modern-ish Gothic, even though it's basically Jane Eyre only even more depressing. And, as always, your recaps are sidesplitting.
rj_anderson
Nov. 16th, 2011 03:58 am (UTC)
Best summary of Rebecca ever. I enjoyed it much more than the book, which I read this past summer and which mostly served to confirm my suspicion that I should avoid all books with my name in the title on general principle. (Which is also why I have never read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, although I suspect that is a... somewhat different book in tone and content to Du Maurier's.)
sistermagpie
Nov. 16th, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
Please please please let me dream of Daphne du Maurier licking my windows tonight!

How could I never have thought about kids trapped in houses in ways many woman are not now! GENIUS!!
bredalot
Nov. 16th, 2011 04:33 am (UTC)
That is a freaking beautiful house. I would be there right beside Daphne du Maurier, licking the windows. Er, probably different windows.
innocentsmith
Nov. 16th, 2011 05:13 am (UTC)
The first time I read Rebecca I was deeply upset by it. Because - true story - I had somehow gotten the impression that it was the paranormal kind of Gothic, and the edition that I was reading had a cover blurb talking about how Manderley was "haunted by the spirit" of "the satanic Rebecca." And I took that entirely literally.

So for most of the book, I was like, "Well, of course those red red flowers are evil - they've probably got mind-controlling pollen or something. And clearly this cottage was the site of unspeakable, bloody, demonic rituals."

Words cannot express my incredulity and rising indignation when I found out that, no, no blood rites going on. Rebecca was just getting high and sleeping around a lot. And for this apparently she deserved to die. (On later reflection/readings, I don't think the book was arguing this at all, but it sure read that way to me on the first go round. And ugh.) So I've never quite gotten past my blazing hatred of Max de Winter.

And I have occasionally considered writing the crazy metatextual adventures of Rebecca de Winter and Milady DeWinter from The Three Musketeers, as two femme fatales who were just too badass for their murderous, self-pitying jerks of husbands. And who should really team up to fight crime, or perhaps commit it.
midnightblooms
Nov. 16th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
And I have occasionally considered writing the crazy metatextual adventures of Rebecca de Winter and Milady DeWinter from The Three Musketeers, as two femme fatales who were just too badass for their murderous, self-pitying jerks of husbands. And who should really team up to fight crime, or perhaps commit it.

Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease write this!
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(no subject) - marie_j_granger - Nov. 20th, 2011 03:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - sarahtales - Nov. 25th, 2013 05:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
sarahnargle
Nov. 16th, 2011 06:07 am (UTC)
I love Rebecca for many, many reasons, one of them being that it's cyclical:

WHAT. Daphne du Maurier doesn't follow society's "rules" of novel writing - Daphne du Maurier is a law unto herself!

Daphne du Maurier was never a lady who could be more chill, especially not when writing ridiculously creepy novels: read The Apple Tree story collection at your own peril.

PS: "Like a house on fire" is hilarious, and cheered me up no end. :)
altogetherisi
Nov. 16th, 2011 08:35 am (UTC)
I have such a thing for houses, now you mention it. A part of me still believes I will one day go to live in Misselthwaite Manor. Or like, Hogwarts. Or Chrestomanci's house. And of course doesn't everyone fall in love with Pemberley? Mmmmmmm. So it will be lovely to read about Aurimere. In the Cotswolds! Haha, just down the road from me :)

Are you going to give us cookies for Unspoken or Team Human? #hint
sarahtales
Nov. 16th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
Well, cookies for books where people don't know the characters or the world might be a leeetle confusing, I fear. ;) But there are going to be short stories set in the Unspoken world.

Elizabeth's joke about falling for Darcy when she first saw Pemberley was a joke--but a joke based on how damn important houses were to ladies back then. They couldn't earn their own...
aello_lime
Nov. 16th, 2011 09:02 am (UTC)
Yes, but you have seen Mitchell and Webb's version?
hatgirl
Nov. 16th, 2011 12:07 pm (UTC)
I love this sketch! "this is if she's size 10!"
wild_magic
Nov. 16th, 2011 11:59 am (UTC)
I have never looked that deeply at the gothic genre (I think they missed that unit at uni somehow, and accidentally taught post modernism instead). I will read a book, and go "huh, that was gothic" but I’ve been finding your posts on it incredibly useful.
(I probably shouldn't admit this, but I taught a class once I based off one of your posts on gothic literature)

I have been reading more gothic stuff since you started review it, and I’m really enjoying the subtlety in the scary bits. We don’t know what were scared of, just that something is so not right. I think part of the reasons I am enjoying it so much is because life can be like that. We rarely know what the bad thing about to get us is. We just have to keep out wits about us, and constant vigilance!

Now I sound paranoid. I swear I’m not :P
midnightblooms
Nov. 16th, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
...the subtlety in the scary bits. We don’t know what were scared of, just that something is so not right.

This is exactly why I love gothic literature, and precisely how I want my scary served.
(no subject) - wild_magic - Nov. 16th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - midnightblooms - Nov. 17th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
thegreatmissjj
Nov. 16th, 2011 12:15 pm (UTC)
I think Rebecca was my Twilight. It was on my summer reading list when I was 13 (I'm...not entirely sure what our English teacher was thinking of discussing with it...we hadn't read Jane Eyre or anything else to compare it to) and it--to lapse back into my southern California vernacular--like totally blew my mind. Books could be sexy! And swoony! And I too am no stranger to finding slightly sketchy relationships romantic!

Couldn't you also define Pride & Prejudice as "girl meets house"? ;-) Certainly the moment Elizabeth sees Pemberley could be considered the moment she falls in love with Darcy...
sarahtales
Nov. 16th, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
She did say it was. ;) I think that the scene where Elizabeth first sees it is very telling of just how important houses were to girls: so much of Jane Austen is examining what economics meant to women's lives!
(no subject) - marie_j_granger - Nov. 20th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
stephanieburgis
Nov. 16th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
I love this entry. :)
sartorias
Nov. 16th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
Dang, she was an odd bird. (Read her bio last spring.)
alyxh
Nov. 16th, 2011 03:07 pm (UTC)
fantastic post! i have the manor house love and the gothic love and this made me giggle...and now i can't unimagine du maurier licking the windows ;)
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