Another Rebecca? Perhaps.

 

On Friday a friend told me that there’s yet another re-imagining of Daphne DuMaurier’s novel, Rebecca, in the works. Rebecca is the iconic 1938 suspense tale about an unnamed young heroine who, while working as a companion to a snobbish old woman, meets Maxim, the man of her dreams. He carries her off to Manderley, the family pile, where she’s haunted and humiliated at every turn by constant reminders of his dead wife, Rebecca. Rich stuff. This latest novel has a contemporary setting, and the unnamed narrator meets and marries Max Winter. But when he whisks her off to the family estate, she is tormented by Max’s stepdaughter, who can’t bear the thought of the new wife replacing her mother. The premise sounds intriguing, yes?

There have been a number of retellings, and reimaginings of Rebecca. Mrs. de Winter, by Susan Hill, Rebecca’s Tale, by Sally Beauman, Always, Forever by Nancy Ohlin, and more. I confess that I’ve read none of these, though now that I know there are out there, I feel like I want to explore them. This is fan fic at the highest level. My own novel, Charlotte’s Story, was inspired by my many, many readings of Rebecca, but there is endemic evil at Bliss House, and the husband is its agent.

The last classic with a twist novel I read was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I know it sounds silly, but I loved it. It didn’t mess with the story too much, but added zombies to the mix. One of the reasons it’s successful is the genius of the original work–Austen clearly loved her characters, but she doesn’t take them so seriously that she doesn’t have any fun with them. I like to think it would crack her up.

I found a list of other classics that have gotten the retelling treatment, and it includes Zadie Smith’s On Beauty (Howard’s End), Susan M. Wyler’s Solsbury Hill (Wuthering Heights), and A Thousand Acres (King Lear) by Jane Smiley.

What do you think about retellings or reimaginings of classic stories? I’m curious…

 

A sunny cover for a very dark novel

 

*Read my first post on Rebecca here.

5 thoughts on “Another Rebecca? Perhaps.”

  1. skyecaitlin says:

    This is an interesting topic, today, and I had no idea that such books had been created; I tend to be a purist with books; although many themes and characters from famous stories emerge in other novels; for instance, Healthcliff of Wuthering Heights, and Mr. Rochester of Jane Eyre are commonly replicated in gothic tales. In fact, I didn’t care for the prequel of Jane Eyre. I love originality, I suppose.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      I had such a crush on Mr. Rochester! Was the Jane Eyre prequel the one about his first wife? I’ve never read it. There’s one book I didn’t mention that I liked quite a lot–Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye. A true reimagining, with plenty of girl power.

      1. skyecaitlin says:

        Yes. it was about his first wife. I will have to check Jane Steele. Thanks!

  2. Deb says:

    If I have read the original story I don’t usually like the remakes. I’m constantly frustrated with the thoughts that “this isn’t how it went” and breaks my flow of reading. That said, I find I can really get into the movie versions of books because it gives me a picture to go back to when I reread the book. But, that’s just me…,

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      Deb, I hear you about “this isn’t how it went.” Re-imaginings are dangerous for writers that way–especially with the classics, because we all know them so well, and love them dearly. I’m always fascinated to see film adaptations. The Harry Potter films were pretty good, I thought, but the first few felt awkward because they were so slavish to the books–they were almost too-faithful adaptations. Patricia Highsmith’s stories adapt very well to film. The Talented Mr. Ripley with Matt Damon is my least favorite, but it’s still good. My very favorite is John Malkovich as Ripley in Purple Noon. Now I always think of him as the older Tom Ripley!

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