Saturday, 3 April 2010


Yes, I am slow on the uptake. It's avril/April! Happy Poetry Month! (Yes?)
In honor of said month, I shall be ending a few of my posts with some poetry, most of which will probably be old, because I can only write poems once in a blue-ish moon. But first, the genuine post (it's a lie, scroll down to see genuine post.) Why do I love April?
A) It's prettier than March
B) It's warmer than March
C) It rains more than March
D) It's more windy than March (Yes, I love wind/rain)
E) It's more poetic than March
F) It's shorter than March
H) My birthday is April 7th.
And, as I've been finding out,
J) I can write better in April.
Yes, I know I skipped I), and here's why.
See that above sentence? It rhymed (NPM!) and that's why I skipped I.
So, what is the point of this post? You'll never be able to guess! Go ahead, try!
Yes, you're absolutely right -this post is about Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier. Good guess! It started out as a post on imagery, but... I was looking through my bookshelf, and saw the copy of Rebecca I stole from my English teacher. (Seriously? Trust me, I didn't mean to. I was just packing up to move after graduation and I was like... oops.) And, like I always do, fell in instant love.
"There was Manderly, our Manderly, secretive and silent as it had always been, the grey stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and the terrace. Time could not wreck the perfect symmetry of those walls, not the site itself, a jewel in the hollow of a hand.
"The terrace sloped to the lawns, and the lawns streched to the sea, and turning I could see the sheet of silver, placid under the moon, like a lake undisturbed by wind or storm. No waves would come to ruffle this dream water, and no bulk of cloud, wind-driven from the west, obscure the clarity of this pale sky."
The way du Maurier provides emotion through imagery is, to use a word too often used, masterful. It isn't immediately apparent what the emotion is. Admiring, obviously, and probably fond, but is there just a shimmer of fear? Her description of the sea is strange (why aren't there waves?) and also foreshadowes later events in the book, though so subtly, the reader has no real idea.
Reading Daphne du Maurier's writing is like drinking melted chocolate. I have rarely come across writing I liked more, or a writer who was so talented at description I could read pages of mere scenery and still be held spell-bound.
I've started every story I've ever written worrying about hooks, starting at the right scene, making sure it's exciting but not hectice, and Rebecca starts with three pages of over-grown gardening and, by the end of it, I know I'm in for the long haul. I'm not putting this book down (or giving it back, as it turns out.) And the first line... 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again.'.... Well!
Can imagery be enough of a 'hook' by itself? Normally I'd say not, and to be fair, there is a bit of characterization and quite a lot of mystery in the first pages of Rebecca, but it's all conveyed through imagery. So what is it that makes people keep reading? It makes me think that a hook isn't just a matter of careful, planned manipulation of a reader, but maybe something more. What, though?
Did you know she also wrote The Birds, which went on to be a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? He also made a movie out of Rebecca, but I'll think I'll join the ever protesting chorus of voices that says... I liked the book better. :)

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