'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.' One of the most renowned opening lines in modern literature is revived by Sally Beauman in Rebecca's Tale, her sequel* to Daphne du Maurier's classic novel. In 1951, 20 years after Rebecca's death, the Manderley area is still alive with gossip and rumours about her untimely demise. The interest in the myths that surround Rebecca's life and death remains unquenched and three interested parties are determined to discover the truth. Prompted by mystery parcels, including a notebook belonging to Rebecca herself, the protagonists take turns in telling their version of events as they strive to piece together the fragments of Rebecca's story and how each of them fits in to it. Rebecca's Tale is a romantic, affecting, detailed work of fiction, which succeeds in solving some of the mysteries of Rebecca without diminishing the power of the marvellous original work.
* Sally Beauman avoids describing her novel as a sequel. "As the title indicates, my book is linked to Daphne du Maurier's 1938 classic novel, Rebecca. But it is not, and was never intended to be, a sequel. On the whole, I dislike and distrust sequels, and those that I've read have always been pale shadows of the original. It can be read by those who know Rebecca intimately, and by those who have never read du Maurier's book (and for them, there's a treat in store). In other words, my novel is deeply indebted to du Maurier's but also, I hope, free and independent of it. We certainly return to Manderley, but we look at that dark and resonant fictional domain from a very different angle, and there are some surprises in store."
Mike Cooper, Waterstone's, Cambridge.