Woman’s hour interviewed two literary commentators this week and part of the discussion was whether or not you were a “Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind” type woman or a “Mrs M. deWinter (the second) from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier” woman. I did a quiz on what sort of literary character I was and was dismayed to discover that I am Rebecca from Ivanhoe, dismayed because I haven’t read Ivanhoe, but now feel that I must.
I have been a second Mrs De Winter character and didn’t like it very much at all. I went out with a man who had the name of his ex-girlfriend tattooed on his back and only wanted to have sex with me if I had been swimming, (she was captain of the university swim team) in total darkness, whilst listening to a CD she gave him. Don’t worry reader, I got my own back on him eventually.
Being in the shadow of the eponymous Rebecca was no fun for the woman who doesn’t even have a first name in the book and it is no fun in real life. It seemed a strange debate that either you are Scarlett, fabulous and flawed or a meek little mouse like Mrs de Winter. Where are all the great women of fiction? I was disappointed that the only option was these two books both written before the Second World War.
It’s 75 years since Gone with the Wind was released in film form and I wonder if it is still watched or read by young women, I was made to watch it when I was about 13 and my grandmother and mother are big fans. Will I force it on my daughter? Probably not, but I would be keen for her to read Rebecca. The Hitchcock film of Rebecca is good but not true to the book, it was made more Hollywood acceptable with references to Rebecca’s promiscuity removed and her death changed to a sailing accident rather than murder.
Mad and bad or mad and sad?