'The Winters' Is A Modern Update Of 1938 Best-Seller 'Rebecca' The Winters is Lisa Gabriele's modern update of the 1938 novel Rebecca.
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'The Winters' Is A Modern Update Of 1938 Best-Seller 'Rebecca'

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'The Winters' Is A Modern Update Of 1938 Best-Seller 'Rebecca'

'The Winters' Is A Modern Update Of 1938 Best-Seller 'Rebecca'

'The Winters' Is A Modern Update Of 1938 Best-Seller 'Rebecca'

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The Winters is Lisa Gabriele's modern update of the 1938 novel Rebecca.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

One of the most famous gothic thrillers has been recast for a new generation.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "REBECCA")

JOAN FONTAINE: (As Mrs. de Winter) Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

FADEL: "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier was a best-seller when it arrived in 1938 and was turned into an award-winning film by Alfred Hitchcock. It's a novel about a woman who is so subsumed by her new husband's dead wife, Rebecca, that she doesn't even have a name. She's simply the narrator. But it is essentially a book about women - women with few choices at the mercy of powerful men. Lisa Gabriele's new novel, "The Winters," is a modern update of the classic tale in which some things have changed but others have not.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LISA GABRIELE: My relationship with "Rebecca" goes way back.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GABRIELE: I was introduced to the actual story as a gothic thriller film by Alfred Hitchcock. And it wasn't until I was in high school that I actually read Daphne du Maurier's novel. And it just blew the top of my head off.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC_)

GABRIELE: Because in the film, Rebecca dies by accident. But in the book, she is murdered by her husband Maxim de Winter. And the unnamed narrator still roots for him and still wants to be with him. And then I think that it was the fall of 2016 when I popped in the DVD and watched "Rebecca" as a way to have a break from the news when I just had this overwhelming sense that men were getting away with so much. And then to watch Maxim de Winter have his happy ending, it was just too irresistible to demonstrate exactly all the ways in which women have changed over the years and how men, especially rich powerful ones, haven't.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GABRIELE: The unnamed narrator of "The Winters" has a lot in common with the unnamed narrator of "Rebecca." But she also differs in some key ways. She's got far more agency. She's far more independent. But she has a - the loner qualities that are inherent to a narrator of this kind of story. She's sort of unmoored from society, doesn't have a ton of friends. She's an orphan and so susceptible to a man like - in my book, he's called Max Winter - kind of swooping in in the beginning and sweeping her off her feet.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GABRIELE: And that was part of the experiment when I first came to imagine an updated version, say, of "Rebecca." Would a woman today be as equally susceptible to a man with similar qualities to Maxim de Winter? And I guess the answer is yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GABRIELE: And then my favorite character in "Rebecca" is Mrs. Danvers.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GABRIELE: The evil step, you know, housekeeper that makes our unnamed narrator's life a misery. And there was just no way for me to update that character. Anyone who behaved the way Mrs. Danvers does in "Rebecca" would just be fired in America. So I needed to find some sort of character that had the same threatening qualities but was equally as unmovable. You couldn't do anything about her presence.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GABRIELE: And in that case, I bring you Dani Winter, the stepchild from hell.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GABRIELE: She's also one of the characters who knows Rebekah. And so that forces my young, unnamed narrator to decide who she believes. Suddenly, I found myself writing a thriller about a blended family and the lies and secrets surrounding the death of Rebekah.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GABRIELE: I often call "The Winters" a response to "Rebecca." This is what would happen now if you take those characters and put them in a similar dynamic and set them free.

(SOUNDBITE OF JULIA KENT'S "ARLANDA")

GABRIELE: And I found what was interesting about having a 15-year-old character was she brought a whole fresh perspective. And I'm finding that a lot. You know, I'm a middle-aged woman. And I'm constantly schooled by young women these days about issues around feminism and agency and what I have a right to. And I find the kinds of behaviors that young women are not putting up with very inspiring.

(SOUNDBITE OF JULIA KENT'S "ARLANDA")

GABRIELE: And I found that to be quite an eye-opening experience writing the book. I didn't have the answers going in. And I came out feeling like, OK. I think women are going to be OK if we actually paid a bit more attention to the younger generation and what they're really trying to tell us.

(SOUNDBITE OF JULIA KENT'S "ARLANDA")

FADEL: Lisa Gabriele is the author of "The Winters."

(SOUNDBITE OF JULIA KENT'S "ARLANDA")

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