Quotes from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989) was a British novelist, playwright, and short story writer. As the author of romantic suspense thrillers, she’s arguably best known for Rebecca (1938), though Jamaica Inn, My Cousin Rachel, and the short story “The Birds” (which inspired the terrifying 1963 film are close contenders.

Initially, some reviewers dismissed Rebecca as “women’s fiction,” or mere gothic romance. But with the benefit of decades of perspective, it’s viewed as a masterful psychological thriller. 

From its iconic first line — “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” — to its last twist, Rebecca has kept readers riveted for decades. It’s a window into the best and worst of human nature, and a complex portrait of love and jealousy, leaving the reader to wonder: what would we do, and how would we feel in the nameless narrator’s place? 

For Rebecca, du Maurier drew upon on her experience with her own husband, who couldn’t let go of his departed wife. Rebecca was an instant best-seller, and the basis of the classic 1940 film of the same title. Here are some standout quotes from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: 

 

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

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“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.”

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“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.”

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“I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say.

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“Men are simpler than you imagine my sweet child. But what goes on in the twisted, tortuous minds of women would baffle anyone.”

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“We can never go back again, that much is certain. The past is still close to us. The things we have tried to forget and put behind us would stir again, and that sense of fear, of furtive unrest, struggling at length to blind unreasoning panic — now mercifully stilled, thank God — might in some manner unforeseen become a living companion as it had before.”

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Rebecca

See also: Daphne du Maurier Writing Habits and Styles

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“I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone.”

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“I believe there is a theory that men and women emerge finer and stronger after suffering, and that to advance in this or any world we must endure ordeal by fire.

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“A dreamer, I walked enchanted, and nothing held me back.”

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“Boredom is a pleasing antidote for fear.”

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“When the leaves rustle, they sound very much like the stealthy movement of a woman in evening dress, and when they shiver suddenly, and fall, and scatter away along the ground, they might be the patter of a woman’s hurrying footsteps, and the mark in the gravel the imprint of a high-heeled shoe.”

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Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier on Amazon

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“You have blotted out the past for me, far more effectively than all the bright lights of Monte Carlo.”

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“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind of course we have on moments of depression; but there are other moments too, when time, unmeasured by the clock, runs on into eternity.”

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“It seemed incredible to me now that I had never understood. 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.”

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“I glanced out of the window, and it was like turning the page of a photograph album. Those roof-tops and that sea were mine no more. They belonged to yesterday, to the past.”

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“That was yesterday. Today we pass on, we see it no more, and we are different, changed in some infinitesimal way. We can never be quite the same again.”

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“Boredom is a pleasing antidote to fear.”

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Memorable first lines from classic novels — Manderley quote from Rebecca

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