Monday, February 9, 2015

Rebecca where are you?

One of my favourite books is Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. I read it first when I was in my mid-teens, and needed something to read. In Mum's bookshelf was an old hardback with a yellow dust jacket. On the spine it said The (then a gap where the dust jacket was torn) "Rebecca". Mum had ripped the price out as it was a bargain 2/6 in 1954 and she didn't want the price showing. I genuinely thought the book was called The "Rebecca" and that it was about a ship or something. Booooring!!!!

Mum's bookshelves were full of old hardbacks from the 40s and 50s. Many of them looked awfully unappetising, in fact downright boring, with a few exceptions, the best being They're A Weird Mob by Nino Culotta (John O'Grady to you), which I adore.

"Read Rebecca," Mum advised. "You'll love it." Only the week before she had urged me to read Green Dolphin Country and I just couldn't get into it; historical drama - not my thing at all.

Anyhow, I thought I'd give Rebecca a shot and I fell in love. It inspired me to seek out Daphne du Maurier's other novels and they have all been good companions and re-read over the years. Except for Julius. I hated it. Julius murdered his cat near the beginning of the book. That ruined it for me.

Every couple of years I re-read Rebecca; yes, I can quote from it, but I don't care. When I was living in our old place I borrowed the book from Mum, and when we moved in here I brought it back and put it in its rightful place in Mum's old bookshelf, which is in the room which is now my office.

Last week I wanted to read it. I knew where I'd put it. Right next to They're A Weird Mob. But it wasn't there. That yellow dust jacket is unmistakable. I checked the shelf again. I pulled out the books at the front to go through the books at the back. I looked through the front books, where it should have been, three times in total.

Had I loaned it out to Whingy? I had loaned her other DduM books but had resisted loaning her Rebecca as, in its 1954 'cheap edition' it was priceless to me and I didn't want her losing it or giving it away, forgetting who had loaned it to her. No, I hadn't loaned it.

So, it must be downstairs with most of G and my books. We have six bookshelves downstairs. I went through every single one of them, hunting for that yellow cover. Where the books were double stacked I took them out, and cast my eyes over thousands of books in total.

I was puzzled. Where on earth -?  There was one more bookshelf in my office I hadn't checked, my own where I keep business books; it would be unlikely to be there but even so…

I chuntered back upstairs and into my office. And there it was. Bright yellow cover and all. Right next to They're A Weird Mob. Right where it should be.

I swear Mum was playing a joke on me. I did ask her, when I was downstairs, where the book was. It seems inconceivable that I could look at that book three times and not see it, not with that bright cover. I'm looking at it now and it's unmissable.

Now I just have to find my copy of Susan Hill's Mrs de Winter, which was written as a follow up. I've read Sally Beauman's Rebecca's Tale, which was excellent and a believable sequel to Rebecca. But hey, I can't find the book downstairs and it's not in the bookshelf in my office. Mum….?

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