Saturday, 16 July 2011
Rebekah by Daphne du Maurier
There is so much revelation in the newspapers today -- evidence, amongst other things, that journalism isn't dead, whatever its sins -- but I'd also very much like to read Daphne du Maurier on Rebecca Brooks. I know I've already cited Evelyn Waugh as the ideal correspondent on the phone-hacking scandal, but Du Maurier would be brilliant on Rebekah. As with the eponymous (albeit dead and elusive) heroine of 'Rebecca', and the compellingly unknowable woman at the heart of 'My Cousin Rachel', the modern Rebekah is morally ambiguous, yet far more intriguing than the shadowy men around her. Transgressive, powerful, beautiful, clever, yet ultimately felled in the narrative, Rebekah/Rachel/Rebecca remains the character that the reader (well, me, at least) can't help but want to escape from the claws of conventional retribution and punishment.
As for the plot of the real-life Rebekah: well, it's as taut as any by Du Maurier (or indeed her forebears, the Brontes). The girl who rose from an apparently ordinary upbringing, outshining her male colleagues, winning favour from a patriarch who grew to love her as dearly as his own children, thereby drawing jealousy upon her, as well as patronage. If Elisabeth Murdoch is to replace Rebekah as favoured daughter (however close the ties of friendship and insider knowledge that once bound them together), then the plot will only thicken; almost certainly with as many twists as the best of Du Maurier's stories (Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, The Birds) when they were translated onto the screen by Alfred Hitchcock. All we need now is a Mrs Danvers figure to emerge out of the shadows... Suggestions, anyone, please?