‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’ With this one seemingly ordinary sentence, Daphne Du Maurier leads us into the intriguing world of the De Winters where — the readers find — mystery, deceit, beauty, passion, obsession and hatred abound.
Now, what exactly is Manderley? It’s a secluded grey stone mansion on the shore of a beach in Cornwall – abandoned for good now – that housed the de Winters at one point. And if you are wondering who dreamt of going to Manderley again, it’s the second Mrs Maxim de Winter whose maiden/first name the reader doesn’t get to know. So, she remains Mrs Maxim de Winter. Forever!
Unlike the first Mrs Maxim de Winter who, despite her physical absence, is omnipresent in the book – right from its title to its theme, she’s everywhere – in the eerie quietude, the parties at the mansion, the silent background, and in every word and in sprit! That’s Rebecca for you, whose presence you can’t shake off long after you’re done reading the classic novel.
Before her chance meeting with Maxim de Winter – a wealthy, recently-widowed Englishman – at Monte Carlo that leads to their spur-of-the-moment marriage, the second Mrs de Winter appears as a young, naïve, timid 20-something woman who loves sketching and works as ‘companion’ to a rich American woman, Mrs Van Hopper who warns the young girl – “You know why he’s marrying you, don’t you? You haven’t flattered yourself he’s in love with you? The fact s that empty house got on his nerves to such an extent he nearly went off his head…”
But, the excitement of the new bride who set out to Manderley soon evaporates as she is “aware now of a stab of panic, and uneasy sickness that could not be controlled”. “Gone was my glad excitement, vanished my happy pride. I was like a child brought to her first school… Any amount of self-possession I had gained hitherto… was like a rag now…,” she admits as the newlyweds approach the beautiful estate. There, she meets the sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers – ‘Danny’ for Rebecca – whose obsession with and undying devotion to the perfect and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca make the young bride determined to unearth the darkest secrets of Maxim’s dead wife.
Besides Mrs Danvers who shows her hatred towards Mrs de Winter openly at every point in the story, there are those other endearing people who try to make the new mistress’s life better. Like Frank Crawley, friend and trusted advisor to Maxim and a hard-working agent of Manderley, Clarice, Mrs de Winter’s faithful and trusted maid, Frith, the kind middle-aged butler, Beatrice and Giles Lacy, Maxim’s quick-witted sister and her slow-witted husband.
And, then, there is Jack Favell, the cunning and wily first cousin (and rumoured ‘lover’) of Rebecca de Winter who keeps coming over to Manderley and shattering the calm, composure and sanity that Mrs de Winter tries to attain, besides creating self-doubt and a fissure in the relationship between the newlyweds.
This first-person narrative tells the readers the story from young Mrs de Winter’s perspective. The tale of half-truths, hidden secrets and many mysteries surrounding the beautiful Rebecca, whose charms make her the life and soul of any high society party, is as haunting as the lead character herself. Nobody – not even a reader – can remain oblivious to Rebecca’s magic, albeit one that’s on the darker side!
Daphne du Maurier’s work, first published in 1938, is a gem of a book which pulls the reader into its pages taking him/her though the hidden corners of Mrs de Winter’s mind where fear lurks and confidence loses its grip. Even while empathising with the young and innocent second wife, the readers can’t help but fall for Rebecca. And it is and will always be Rebecca, who lives on… in the readers’ minds forever!
Myth of the Entrepreneur: A search for true value
Author: Ravi Kailas and Cathy Guo
Publisher: Harper Collins
Price: Rs 599
What happens when a successful entrepreneur, who built and managed the world’s largest independent payphone company when he was still in his early thirties, begins questioning his identity as a value-creator? What happens when he pauses and reflects on the nature of consciousness, value and personal identity ‑‑ only to redefine, for himself, the relationship between the entrepreneur and society? Triggered off by a heart attack at thirty-eight, Ravi Kailas’s search takes us through the challenging, yet ultimately rewarding, process of shedding the self to discover service. His story is set against the backdrop of inspirations that are deep and varied: from Vipassana meditation to Alexander the Great, from Ashoka to Chuck Feeney, from the pioneers of trusteeship like Jamsetji Tata to a deep analysis of the relevance of trusteeship to modern-day inequality across the globe. Myth of the Entrepreneur is an intimate exploration of Kailas’s journey to understand what constitutes true value, and how each of us can interrogate this concept of ‘value’ to lead more fruitful, connected and liberated lives. For today’s young executives, this book will be an indispensable guide as they search for satisfaction in an ambitious, sometimes ruthless, world.
The Billionaire’s Funeral
Author: Elijah Brahms
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Price: Rs 224
Billionaire investor Chad Cohen is at a London restaurant when all his credit cards are declined. Before he can make sense of any of it, he receives a disturbing message on his phone. And now he’s being accused of travelling on a stolen passport and put in jail. Who’s out to get him? His reputation in shreds, the company he so painstakingly built comes under threat. The stocks plummet and the board of directors decides to fire Chad. Frantic, he calls the one person he can trust the most — his friend and business partner Michael Cole. The two try to figure out just how much of Chad’s life has been digitally erased by a hacker. Hitting one dead end after another, Chad begins to doubt Mike’s loyalty. Was this all just a vicious plan to take over everything Chad had built with him? Helpless and locked up in jail, can he count on Mike for his freedom? Has he been served the ultimate betrayal or is this a cosmic intervention to right his past wrongs?