Rebecca chronicles the nameless narrator’s marriage to Maxim de Winter, a marriage which is overshadowed by the memory of Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca, who was killed in a mysterious sailing accident. As Maxim’s second wife learns more about Rebecca, she becomes more intimidated and jealous, until Maxim reveals the intriguing details of the marriage. The reader, along with the narrator, slowly unravels the events that had previously taken place at Manderley, the de Winter residence.
As the novel progresses, Rebecca’s underlying evil and the previous events at Manderley become more and more apparent. The obsessive nature of both Maxim and Mrs. Danvers begin to overpower the central love story. With peripheral characters supplying minor details of the past, the narrator starts to piece together past events, and this knowledge changes her life.