Rebecca is one of my favorite books. Rebecca herself has died before the book begins, but she is still a great presence throughout. More than the current events with the second Mrs. de Winter and her new husband Maxim, it's Rebecca's story that keeps me interested: What was she doing in London the day she died? Did she really commit suicide or was she murdered? And above all, who was she really?
Several years ago I came across Mrs. de Winter by Susan Hill. I don't remember anything about the plot, but I do recall being less than impressed. Indeed, when I was searching recently for reviews I found that it got rather lukewarm mentions in various places, mostly English newspapers. However, a couple of weeks ago I found Rebecca's Tale by Sally Beauman. Now here was a story that addressed the very questions I always had, and finding out who Rebecca really was is at the heart. Beauman's book was approved by the du Maurier estate and even manages to keep to the basics of Susan Hill's book. It's quite a feat for an author to take a well-loved classic and a not-so-well-received sequel and construct a plausible third narrative around them.
Hill's book begins right as Rebecca ends and follows Maxim and his second wife as they deal with the aftermath of finding Rebecca's body and end up leaving England for a while, then returning for various reasons. Beauman sets her book twenty years after Rebecca's death, using a minor character from the last few chapters of the original and introducing another character who is interested in Rebecca for personal reasons. There's intrigue, mysterious notebooks, a touch of romance, and the evil Mrs. Danvers. This book might even stand on its own if you like a good suspense novel. Definitely pick it up if you want to find out what really happened to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.
If you like satire, you might also like The Other Rebecca by Maureen Freely. It's an updated retelling of the original, but it's supposed to also be humorous. I don't think I want to try this one, but if you don't mind your classics getting a little twisted treatment, you might go for it.