First published in 1938 Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier has a very old-fashioned feeling to it. It does not seem to fit into the time of its publication, but rather to harken back to an earlier period. The descriptions, especially of Manderley, are lush and detailed and there is a foreboding feel to most of the novel. It is also a page turner. The very first paragraph tells us a lot (though not all) of where the story will end up which I found to be both a reassurance at certain points and an incentive to keep moving. There were also occasional shocking bits--where it seemed like one thing was true and then you suddenly discovered something else entirely--which kept things moving quickly.“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.” ― Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
The characters were compelling, even the minor ones like Max's sister, as each had a distinct identity that supported their role in the unfolding drama. The house, as well as other locations in the novel, are drawn for the reader in ways that are both visual--the red flowers lining the drive to Manderley, for example--and atmospheric. The creepiness of the unused wing of the house is tremendous, but what exactly makes it creepy is hard to pin down as du Maurier blends the descriptive details and the action so skillfully.
I thoroughly enjoyed this gothic tale of jealousy and deception on an English estate and am looking forward to watching the Hitchcock film based on the novel.