It has been 80 years since the legendary English writer and playwright Dame Daphne Du Maurier’s classic novel Rebecca hit the shelves. A tale of innocence, love, mystery, insecurity and secrecy, Rebecca which is one of the most widely read classics of all time, speaks a universal language of triumph over evil, fondness over doubt and gaining strength instead of giving way to weakness. Last year, it was voted the United Kingdom’s favourite book of the past 225 years. The story is haunting and gripping and it is sometimes pleasant and other times disturbing to note how much the gist of it is so relevant in today’s world, making it a book of all times and for all generations.The only people who are making you miserable are the ones who are the most miserable themselves and Rebecca is filled with characters like these. Mrs Van Hopper and Mrs Danvers are a few of themRebecca is a Gothic novel by Daphne du Maurier. A best-seller, Rebecca sold 2,829,313 copies between its publication in 1938 and 1965, and the book has never gone out of print. The novel is remembered especially for the character Mrs Danvers, the fictional estate Manderley and its opening line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” The writer, who was 31 years of age at the time she wrote it, makes her story revolve around the life of a girl in her early 20s, bored with routine and tired of mundane chores. Du Maurier very cleverly gets inside the mind of a girl that age and her sensibilities and sensitivities. Any girl this young is bound to act, feel and think the way Du Maurier makes the protagonist do. The girl’s nature and personality is relatable and is like any her age even in the 21st Century. It may be the era of modernity with a splash of a carefree attitude among girls in this age bracket, but given the circumstances the protagonist finds herself into, her reaction towards the situations are not unique, and it is because of this vulnerability and lack of awareness, that makes her so relatable. This 80-year-old book asserts the fact that how the rich and the powerful can get away with so much even after committing heinous societal crimesThe story talks about the love affair between a grown man in his early 40s with a girl 20 years younger to him and the steady bond that develops between these two with the girl looking up to him, sometimes as a father figure, sometimes as a friend, sometimes as a mystery but more often as the love of her life. The way she feels around him both before and after marriage is the same kind of feeling any girl would have given the circumstances she’s in, regardless of medieval or modern times. Other than the relatability factor concerning the protagonist’s nature, it is the fact that how the rich and the powerful can get away with so much even after committing heinous societal crimes. Maxim De Winter is guilty of killing his first wife in cold blood but years later, when the case reopens and he senses he could be in major trouble, he gets away with it scot free owing to his contacts and riches. Another noteworthy aspect of the book is how meticulously, Du Maurier gets inside the mind of a 40-year-old man and how he reacts to situations and unpredictable scenarios. His roles as a widower, a lover boy and a second-time married man have been essayed well by Du Maurier. The writer portrays him in a loose ended way, leaving it to the readers to judge him. The only people who are making you miserable are the ones who are the most miserable themselves and Rebecca is filled with characters like these. The most prominent of these are Mrs Van Hopper who is the girl’s first paymaster.The second is Mrs Danvers who is the head housekeeper at Manderley Mansion. Both in their own capacity try to bring the girl down, sometimes for her choices and decisions, sometimes for her appearance and most times for her introvert personality. Both have their own reasons to make her feel miserable; Mrs Van Hopper couldn’t fathom how an ordinary looking girl from a mediocre background could make a billionaire like Maxim De Winter fall head over heels in love with her. But the cruelest is Drs Danvers who loathes the fact that her darling Rebecca is suddenly replaced by a younger girl out of nowhere. The way the girl handles them both speaks a lot about her strong character, even if she’s shy. She resorts to complete silence and lots of patience. The highlight of the story and the most relatable factor in the entire plot is how much the girl keeps comparing herself to her husband’s first wife whose “shadow still lurks in Manderley”. She is lost and sometimes even regrets her decision of marrying Maxim so soon. But as there is evil lurking everywhere, there is goodness in the world too. There are good, kind hearted people who understand you and lift you up when so many are hell bent in bringing you down. Beatrice Lacy, Frank Crawley, Frith and Clarice are a few of them. True love triumphs in the end when the girl stands by Maxim through the hard times, despite of the knowledge that he killed Rebecca. Du Maurier was the proud recipient of the National Book Award for Rebecca in the same year it released. The fictional settings, characters and the storyline will stay with you forever. Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2018.