"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Women know how to get it done

Rebecca. A moody book about a woman being terrorized by a dead woman and a crazy woman, written by a woman. Do we know how to scare ourselves, or what?

Even though it was published in 1938, before the advent of today's psychobabble, the base of the story preys on what we instinctively know about ourselves: we are sometimes jealous, insecure beings. When we marry someone who is divorced, the ex-spouse is easy to dismiss. They are the One Who Was Discarded. They must have had flaws. Flaws that we will avoid.

When we marry someone whose spouse has died, our foundation is much less stable. Even if the spouse was a demon, their memory is honored, revered. Their flaws are minimized. Their virtues, even if small and brief, are maximized. How can you replace them?

Throw in a new husband who doesn't want to talk about it and a loony-toon housekeeper and it's no wonder the current Mrs. DeWinter is turning into a little quivering blob. In her defense, for those of us who'd drop-kick Mrs. Danvers out of Manderley, she is young and shy and a people pleaser.

Of course, I'm a people pleaser and I'd still clock that witch.

I recently re-read Rebecca. It reads long and slow, with lots of description of the surroundings and the weather and everything from the view of the unnamed "Mrs. DeWinter". And yet, I couldn't put it down. Try it out:

* * *
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. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.

* * *

Someone, we don't know who at this point, is dreaming of a place they can't get to. Obviously there is a reason. After this first paragraph, we want to know why they can't get there from here.

And of course, I need to give you a little (Dame) Judith Anderson. You deserve a reward:

But what to drink while you're watching? I know it's supposed to be a big fat month of German beer, but the residents of Manderley are more sophisticated than that. How about some Scotch?

This is Cardhu Whisky, double aged. I'm not a whiskey drinker, but this is darned good, and it has a darned good history - it was created by a woman, Helen Cumming. Read about it here: http://www.malts.com/index.php/en_row/Our-Whiskies/Cardhu/The-Distillery

Scotch. A real woman's drink.

Where should we go next for a fright?

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