Rebecca (MP3 Book) - Daphne du Maurier, Anna Massey I first read this novel approximately forty years ago, when I was a teenager. I have an enduring memory of walking around my home, nose firmly in the book, unable to put it down. Yesterday, listening to the concluding chapters of the audiobook, I had the same experience. I could not stop listening until it was over.

When I was a teenager, what captivated me most about Rebecca was the plot: the relationship between the unnamed narrator and Maxim de Winter, the machinations of Mrs Danvers, the mystery of the character after whom the novel is named.

This time around, the plot held no surprises (even though the passage of time had led me to forget many of its details). What held me spellbound instead was the skill of the author in creating the atmosphere of the novel. There's the use of language. Du Maurier repeatedly evokes colour (for example, the red of the rhododendrons at Manderley), smell (such as the scent of azaleas) and sound (the sea, birds, rain and storms). The descriptive language is rich and beautiful. There's the evocation of Manderley: not the first time a house has figured almost as a character in a novel, but rarely has this been achieved with such mastery.

There's the device of not naming the narrator. As I understand it, du Maurier claimed that the narrator - the second Mrs de Winter - was not named because she could not think of something suitable to call her. However it came about, this was a stroke of genius. Having a name means having an identity and - at least in her own mind - the narrator had none. She was, both to herself and to other characters, "not-Rebecca".

There's not-Rebecca herself. Her shyness and insecurities are a given. What I find more interesting about her is her ability to create and and re-create events in her imagination. She sees not what is, but what might be and what might have been. It's fitting that du Maurier gave her an interest in drawing and painting, because she does not just process a thought, she creates an image, a painting, a film about it in her mind. The narrator's imagination is central to the sometimes dreamy, sometimes nightmarish quality of the novel.

I could go on, particularly about characterisation, but I don't want to get into spoiler territory. It suffices to say that in my estimation Rebecca has gone from a novel of my teenage years which I really liked, to a novel which I find amazing on many levels.

The audiobook edition was very capably narrated by the late Anna Massey, who once played Mrs Danvers in a film adaptation. Needless to say, her Mrs Danvers was excellent, as was her creation of the other characters.

I wish that I hadn't waited so long to re-discover Rebecca. I will want to read it again. I will also want to read more du Maurier.