"Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier
According to the back jacket, the book is the winner of the Anthony Award for 'Best Novel Of The Century'. That seems like pretty high praise if you ask me. I picked this up for the Classics Bookclub over at 5 Minutes for Books, which is going on today.
As I noted in last Tuesday's post, I had a little bit of difficulty getting into the book. I think it was switching gears from the contemporary novels I had been reading and adjusting to a time where manners and customs were so different from how we now live. It didn't take long, though, for me to be swept up in the vivid descriptions of life at Manderly.
I could almost taste the crumpets that were served with tea in the library every afternoon at 4:30 sharp. Almost smell the roses in the rose garden below the bedroom window. Almost hear the waves crashing on the rocks just beyond the west wing windows. Almost envision the beauty of the azaleas dripping with raindrops in the Happy Valley. Almost feel the presence of Manderly's former mistress, from whom the novel derives its name.
Most of all though, I found myself swept up in the insecurities of the novel's heroine, who is never called by name. As she described her fears of not living up to her predecessor's beauty and charm, I could vividly recall being newly married and my own fears of not meeting expectations. As she met new people and felt them judging her shyness in comparison to Rebecca's instant likability, I remembered the fear of rejection that sometimes takes over my thoughts when I begin a new endeavor (relationship, position, etc.)
I wanted to wrap my arms around her shoulders and tell her to quit comparing herself to a ghost, to stop trying to please people that would never be pleased, to speak up for herself and to take ownership of her new position as mistress of Manderly. I thought about how differently we look at things when we are 45 than when we were 20.
Or do we?
You see, I did something last week that I swore I would not do. I joined Facebook. It is hard to explain why I was so set against it. I guess I just thought that it was something for the kids and I didn't want to appear to be reliving my youth. Then, week before last, there were a couple of things that occurred in our extended family back in Arkansas. Things that I would still not know about, except that my kids read about it on Facebook. So...I decided to sign up. Within seconds of creating a password, I was bombarded with all kinds of information regarding family and friends.
The next day there were even more 'Friend Requests' and messages. My daughter (Kelli) was sending me pictures to put up for my profile. I was getting messages from a cousin I had not seen in over 25 years. Messages from people I ministered with years ago but had not seen in 10 years. Messages from people that I see on a regular basis...and people that I see daily. My whole life washed over me like a wild, crashing wave.
I found myself trying to be what each of those people expected me to be. I found myself worrying about what someone from the church we attended 10 years ago would think about me going to the PBR for the weekend and possibly seeing a picture of me with a drink. I wondered what my cousin, whom I hadn't seen since we were young adults, would think of my physical appearance. I worried that the guys who work for us might see me online late on a work night (of course, that would mean they were on too, huh?). I worried that my children might feel stifled on their Facebook pages since I was now there. I worried...and I worried...and I even found myself asking the question "who am I anyway?"
I was having an identity crisis. I had fallen into the old insecurities...again!
Then last night, I read:
I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continued to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth. This was what I had done. I had built up false pictures in my mind and sat before them. I had never had the courage to demand the truth. Had I made one step forward out of my own shyness Maxim would have told me these things four months, five months ago.
How many false pictures have I built up?
How many have I sat before and thought to be the truth?
How many distorted walls have hid the truth only because I have been too uncomfortable to look around the corner?
How many times have I looked back, after discovering the truth, and seen that no one was judging me...it was just me judging myself by some unreal standard?
How much had I suffered because of my own insecurities?
When would I stop, make that one step, and find the truth?
2 years ago