Inspired by the classic novel Rebecca, The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything.
After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter – a wealthy senator and recent widower – and to a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties – how will she replace the perfect wife?
Discussion points and questions:
- The Winters has been described as a modern response to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Have you read Rebecca? If yes, did that enhance your enjoyment of The Winters? How does The Winters stand on its own as a distinct work?
- Lisa Gabriele has said that in The Winters, she sought to examine shifting gender roles and norms since Rebecca’s publication. She has argued that men – in particular, powerful white men – have not changed as much as women have. Do you agree? How does The Winters illustrate this?
- What role do the disparate settings of Rebecca and The Winters – 1930s England and 2010s America – have in shaping the plot? How do the cultural forces at play differ between the books, and how are they the same?
- The unnamed narrator says there was nothing about her that would suggest she was the type to fall for a man like Max Winter. What do you think she means by this? Do you agree with her?
- The narrator gleans information about Rebekah’s life and death, as well as about Max and his daughter Dani, from her Internet searches. How has the Internet made it difficult to keep the past in the past? Do you think this is a good or bad thing?
- Discuss the moment the narrator lays eyes on Asherley, Max’s estate and her new home. Why is this Cinderella trope—of a lower or middle class woman rescued by someone rich—so common in literature? Have you ever had this fantasy?
- Dani and Max tell differing stories about what happened to Rebekah that night in the greenhouse. What makes Max easier to believe than Dani? In the narrator’s place, who would you believe and why? And as a reader, how do you think Rebekah died?
- Discuss the use of water as a symbol in The Winters. Why do you think this symbol recurs and what do you think it represents?
- Early in the story, Louisa tells the narrator: “I can see what Max sees in you. . . . He brought you home for a reason.” Our narrator believes this reason is love. What do you think?
- Revisit the opening scene of the book. Has your interpretation of this scene changed now that you’ve finished the novel? Does The Winters have a happy ending?