by Paige Harbison
January 31, 2012
Source: NetGalley, received in exchange for an honest review
Mature content: some sex/partying scenes.
When I learned that someone had tackled a retelling of Rebecca, I could barely contain my excitement. I mean, Rebecca!
(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, no worries. Just bear with me for a second. If you've read Rebecca, feel free to skip ahead a bit.)
Rebecca was written in 1938 by Daphne DuMaurier. In 1940, Alfred Hitchcock adapted it into into an Academy award-winning movie.
The original Rebecca is the story of a naïve young woman who is swept off her feet by a charming widower, Maximillian DeWinter. They marry after a whirlwind courtship and he brings her to live at his estate, Manderley. Then happily-ever-after, right? Not so fast. She (we actually never learn the narrator’s first name) tries to settle into her new life, but becomes increasingly insecure as she learns about Rebecca, her husband’s gorgeous, charming first wife. Mrs. Danvers, the estate’s housekeeper, taunts our poor heroine, making it clear that she’ll never measure up to Rebecca. As our heroine learns more about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Rebecca’s death, she begins to wonder whether she’s in danger herself.
In New Girl, Manderley is transformed from a lavish English estate to a tony American boarding school. Our narrator, the New Girl (like the narrator of Rebecca, she’s also unnamed) arrives at the school from sunny Florida to find that’s she’s assigned to the room of a former student named Becca. Her new roommate, Dana Veers (As in Mrs. Danvers, LOL) is not only unfriendly, she’s weirdly obsessed with her missing roomie, Becca.
Our hapless heroine learns that Becca was a party girl, juggling two guys, Jack and Max. New Girl fights her attraction to rich, mysterious Max, but can she trust him? Did he have anything to do with Becca’s disappearance?
New Girl alternates chapters from flashbacks in Becca’s POV to the POV of the New Girl as she tries to find her place at Manderley and figure out what happened to Becca. At first I was startled by this (in the original, Rebecca is nothing but a sinister presence) but decided that it was a smart choice.
Another welcome change is that New Girl wasn't as much of a doormat as the original heroine. I did wish that the author had done more to emphasize the book's setting. In Rebecca, Manderley was almost a character in itself, which added to the suspense.
Still, I did enjoy New Girl. It was a little slow to get going, but soon I was flipping the pages, dying to find out if this retelling was going to end the same way as the original. No, I’m not going to tell you! But nice try!
Try this book if you liked: