This post may contain affiliate links. If you click them I could receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
These now-iconic opening lines to Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel, Rebecca, reflect my own current state of mind. Having spent the greater part of October immersed in reading this story for the first time and watching the various movie adaptations, I, too, find myself, like Rebecca, dreaming of Manderley.
While movies can visually transport you to a novel’s setting, somehow, they still fail to measure up to the masterful descriptive language crafted by du Maurier. As a rule, I don’t usually enjoy reading too much description in novels, but du Maurier’s settings live, breathe, and practically speak to us.
Published in 1938, the novel has never been out of print. With renewed interest due to the recent Netflix adaptation starring Lily James and Armie Hammer, new readers will discover Rebecca as I have. I’ve no doubt du Maurier’s novel will continue to be read and beloved for years to come because, as the saying goes, “the book is always better.”
16 Rebecca Quotes from Daphne Du Maurier’s Novel (with Page Numbers)
1. “Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 1).
2. “Nature had come into her own again and, little by little, in her stealthy, insidious way had encroached upon the drive with long, tenacious fingers.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 1).
3. “We can never go back again, that much is certain. The past is still too close to us.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 5).
4. “We all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle in the end. We have conquered ours, or so we believe.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 5).
5. “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. They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 37).
6. “Packing up. The nagging worry of departure. Lost keys, unwritten labels, tissue paper lying on the floor. I hate it all.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 49).
7. “I am aware of sadness, of a sense of loss. Here, I say, we have lived, we have been happy. This has been ours, however brief the time. Though two nights only have been spent beneath a roof, yet we leave something of ourselves behind. Nothing material, not a hairpin on a dressing table, not an empty bottle of Aspirin tablets, not a handkerchief beneath a pillow, but something indefinable, a moment of our lives, a thought, a mood.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 49).
8. “This house sheltered us, we spoke, we loved within those walls. 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.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 49).
9. “And we would waste the last moments laughing at a stranger, because we were already strangers to one another.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 52).
10. “In a little while it would be different, there would come tomorrow, and the next day, and another year. And we would be changed perhaps, never sitting quite like this again. Some of us would go away, or suffer, or die; the future stretched away in front of us, unknown, unseen, not perhaps what we wanted, not what we planned. This moment was safe though, this could not be touched.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 115).
11. “Men are simpler than you imagine, my sweet child. But what goes on in the twisted tortuous minds of women would baffle anyone.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 225).
12. “I could fight the living but I could not fight the dead.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 262).
13. “It doesn’t make for sanity, does it, living with the devil.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 305).
14. “It’s funny, I thought, how the routine of life goes on, whatever happens, we do the same things, go through the little performance of eating, sleeping, washing. No crisis can break through the crust of habit.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 358).
15. “Every moment was a precious thing, having in it the essence of finality.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 402).
16. “But you know the old saying? Out of sight, out of mind. If people aren’t there to be talked about the talk dies. It’s the way of the world.” Daphne du Maurier | Rebecca (p. 419).