Rebecca is one of my favorite novels, it’s opening line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” still sends shivers down my spine. So when I picked up Lisa Gabriele’s The Winters, where she set out to update Daphne du Maurier’s classic, I was skeptical. A few pages in, however, I was hooked. Gabriele doesn’t mimic Rebecca so much as use the theme of the original as a jumping off point. Right off the bat we know this is present time since our unnamed protagonist works for a charter fishing company in the Caribbean. Because her parents worked on a fishing trawler, this young woman knows boats and fish. Where romance is concerned, she’s a novice, so a perfect catch for Max Winter who comes to rent a boat and soon makes off with the female skipper.
Laureen, who runs the charter fishing company, tries to warn her employee that nothing good will come from a relationship with Max. But Laureen is mollified and, quite honestly, shocked, when Max proposes marriage. Soon Max is whisking his new love off to his mansion, Asherley, on Long Island still haunted by – yes – his previous wife, Rebekah. Rather than a cruel housekeeper, however, the new bride must contend with Max’s daughter, Dani. The manipulation and tricks begin soon after the new Mrs. Winter arrives. Desperate to forge a bond with her new stepdaughter, she too easily accepts any olive branch that Dani extends. And while Max assures his new wife that Dani means well, the evidence begins to pile up that’s not so. We’re in for quite a ride.
One reviewer online confessed not knowing anything about Rebecca (what are they having students read these days?!!), so enjoying The Winters without being familiar with its predecessor isn’t necessary. But it certainly deepens the experience. Rebecca fans will anticipate the ending, but Gabrielle has a few surprises up her sleeve that keep us engaged until the final page.
I can’t wait to see what classic Lisa attacks next.
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