Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier hit the ground running upon its publication in 1938, and it hasn’t gone out of print since. We’re drawn to Manderley again and again: to the isolation of Maxim de Winter’s second wife and the long, deep shadow Rebecca cast out in front of her. The fervent devotion to a dead wife that the living one cannot hope to capture herself. The long buried secrets that rise to the surface.
If one were to create a new adaptation or retelling of Rebecca, these gothic elements would be a must to include: a lavish manor that has perhaps fallen into disrepair; a sense of dread and foreboding permeating the estate; an enigmatic and distant lover you may not be able to trust; an antagonist wholeheartedly devoted to your ruin; a ghost you will never be able to escape.
In these modern gothic retellings of Rebecca, many aspects of the reimaginings are similar to the original, but some put a unique spin on it. Some of these retellings don’t utilize a Rebecca-like ghost at all, favoring instead to capture the spirit of the crumbling manor, the timid and lonely new wife, and the strange family she’s inherited. Not every Rebecca retelling is that straightforward, and that’s the fun of it, right?
Here are nine Rebecca retellings that will make you feel as lonely, unsettled, and paranoid as Maxim de Winter’s second wife.
The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas
Beatriz lost her father and her home when the Mexican government was overthrown, and she has nowhere to go. That is, until the dashing Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes marriage. Despite the whispers about what happened to his previous wife, Beatriz jumps at the security this marriage offers. His home in the countryside, however, gives her less than a warm welcome. The staff are scared of the house, her new sister-in-law refuses to enter it at night, and Beatriz is hearing and seeing things. With the help of a young priest, she may to find out what’s haunting her and her new home…all while navigating a forbidden attraction between the two.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
Elsie just knew her life would be perfect when she married Rupert, a wealthy heir with a large estate that she can’t wait to see. But then Rupert dies, and Elsie is left alone and pregnant. She’s sent to his estate for the duration of her pregnancy, and is immediately confronted with inhospitable staff and hostile nearby villagers…and the doll. She finds a wooden figure that has a remarkable resemblance to herself, and the staff are terrified of it. Elsie thinks it’s nonsense, but sometimes…sometimes it feels like the doll is watching her.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
It is 1686, and young Nella Oortman has come to Amsterdam to be the wife Johannes Brandt, a merchant trader. Although Brandt is kind, he spends his days in his office, leaving Nella alone with his cold, aloof sister. It’s not what she expected, nor is the wedding gift that her new husband gives her: a cabinet-sized replica of their manor. She hires a miniaturist to help furnish the tiny home, and as the little rooms fill with objects and versions of everyone who lives there, Nella realizes that the replicas behave in strange ways…even mimicking their real live counterparts. Nella begins to learn secrets of the house that, if revealed, could put them all in danger.
Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami
Noriko is convinced that she’s made the right choice by marrying Kazuhito, even though her mother is strongly against the match. Eager to start their new life together, she moves in with her new husband in a large house that holds four generations of Kazuhito’s family. They’re all welcoming and kind, but the more that Noriko is around them…the more things don’t add up. Her new relatives have strange *quirks*, and she grows more paranoid by the day by what she hears and sees…and whether she can trust her own senses. Is the family really a threat to her? Or is it all in her head?
The Winters by Lisa Gabriele
Politician and widower Max Winter has taken a new fiancèe, and she cannot believe how lucky she is when she arrives at his opulent Long Island estate. She is besotted with Max, although the longer she stays at the manor, the more she realizes that things are not as they seem. Her fiancè’s teenage daughter, Dani, despises her and clings to the memory of her deceased mother, Rebekah — Max’s first wife, loved by all, and whose memory still haunts the estate. Can the soon-to-be new Mrs. Winters come to an understanding with Dani, or will the family’s dark secrets unravel her relationship with Max before it truly begins?
The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
Jane has her future figured out: she must secure a marriage match that will allow her to remain as independent as possible, and that means marrying Dr. Augustine Lawrence. The only condition is that she’s not allowed to visit his family manor, and this is perfectly fine with Jane. Naturally, Jane breaks this promise on their wedding night, although it’s not her fault: an accident strands her at her new husband’s door in the middle of the night. Except, the man who answers is not the man she remembers. The handsome surgeon is now a terrified man who thinks she’s a ghost. By morning, he’s himself again. Jane knows there’s something terribly wrong; she just doesn’t know if it’s her husband or the house itself.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Noemí would have never gone to High Place if not for her cousin, who sent her alarming pleas for help in the mail. She’d never met her sweet cousin’s cold and aloof husband, or any of his coolly hostile family until she arrived to help. Noemí knows her cousin well enough to know that something is wrong, but her new family rarely lets them be alone together or even leave the estate. Her only ally is the family’s youngest son, who tries to help her without getting himself in trouble. As Noemí digs deeper into the family’s history and commits to helping her cousin, she uncovers a darkness so vile that they may not be able to escape with their lives.
Alena by Rachel Pastan
A young art curator is offered the position of her dreams at at the Nauk, a sleek art museum in Cape Cod, by the founder of the museum himself: the wealthy Bernard Augustin. She soon realizes that she’s the replacement for Alena, Bernard’s previous curator and muse, who tragically died two years before. The Nauk’s staff can’t let go of Alena’s memory, however, and when new evidence surfaces surrounding the circumstances of her death, the new curator must decide where her loyalties lie.
Always, Forever by Nancy Ohlin
At Thorn Abbey, one of New England’s top tier boarding schools, Becca was beloved by all — especially her boyfriend Max. And then Becca tragically drowns. When Tess transfers to the school, she unintentionally slips into Becca’s former life by being her replacement roommate, and being inexplicably drawn to Max. Except something of Becca remains, and that something wants Tess out of the picture — no matter what it takes.