Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Author: Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca is one of the best books written by Daphne du Maurier. Daphne uses a narrator to tell her stories—in the first person. I don’t like reading such books and kept away the book after glancing through it. But my friend insisted that I try it out. I trust her opinions and suggestions especially, regarding books and movies and so decided to give it a try.

To my surprise, I found that Daphne’s writing gets you hooked. You pick up one of her books to read and you can keep it down only after finishing reading it! She weaves a beautiful web of mystery that holds you captive until the very end and that’s the kind of book I prefer to read when I don’t have time in hand!

About the book:

Rebecca is a beautiful, haunting, gripping tale of love, hate, and deceit. As you read it, you will feel the anxiety, apprehension, and fear described by the narrator. You get so involved with the feeling that you move through each chapter with an anxiety that only ends with the end of the novel.

Daphne narrates all these feelings in the most simple but the most justified manner Rebecca begins with the description of Manderly, a beautiful old mansion, with its menacing woods and rising turrets. It is characterized by the long winding drive. Manderly is the scene where the tale unfolds. The narrator is Max De Winter’s young and shy second wife.

The main characters of the story are Max De Winter (master of Manderly), Rebecca (De Winter’s late wife), De Winter’s second wife (who is now Manderly’s new mistress), Mrs. Danvers (the maid).

Now, Rebecca was drowned on a foggy evening in a river very close to Manderly. Nobody knows how exactly she died—was it a suicide, was she killed, was it an accident? Max De Winter meets his second wife at a hotel. She is a companion to a snobbish old lady named Mrs. Van Hopper who is very fond of playing bridge.

They meet and fall in love despite a huge age gap. And they marry in haste barely eight months after Rebecca’s death. Shy, young, and vulnerable, the new bride is in total awe of Manderly. She is lively, full of life and everything that Rebecca wasn’t.

Mrs. Danvers, the maid keeps the memory of Rebecca alive by constantly referring to her in her conversations and making comparisons. She constantly reminds everyone that Rebecca is still the mistress of Manderly and is still the queen of Max’s heart. She preserves Rebecca’s room just as it was the night before her drowning accident.

Rebecca’s shadow looms large over the young bride. She is intimidated by Mrs. Danvers whose love for her dead mistress is very scary indeed! Certain events take place at Manderly after her arrival. The poor bride sees Max withdrawing from her and himself. She begins to think that she can never make him happy like Rebecca did.

Slowly, as the story progresses she and concludes that her marriage is a failure. We can feel her pain, sorrow, fear, and all the other emotions—through her eyes we can see the web of deceit, hatred, and love that entangles Manderly and all the people who are part of it—all of it is well described by Daphne!

Rebecca’s little sailing boat is found with a skeleton lying on the cabin floor. Doubts begin to rise and that raised many questions, who’s is it? Was someone else with Rebecca when she died? Who was that? Was that a man or a woman? Then the shocking revelation and the truth about Rebecca, her death and what really happened that night, eight months ago comes out into the open.

To reveal more would be destroying the magic and charm of reading this book. Read and enjoy the magic


Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss

Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a book written by Lynn Truss. The title Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation refers to a joke about a panda. 

The Title

The panda had read an entry in an encyclopedia entry on itself which stated: Panda is a large black and white bear like mammal, native to chine. It eats, shoots, and leaves. So the panda does just that—goes into a cafe, orders a sandwich, then pulls out a gun, shoots, and leaves.

The encyclopedia meant to say that panda is a mammal which eats shoots and leaves. All the problem because of an extra comma (after eats) which changed the meaning of an innocent sentence.

The book

What fascinated me was the fact that a book on punctuation was at the top of UK bestseller lists. Also, the title and it’s explanation was equally fascinating. Being a technical writer by profession, I thought this book would be an interesting, informative and educative.  I bought it, read it and found it a little  interesting, a little  informative, and a little educative! Any writer will know that the word punctuation  puts you in an alert mode and you try to be careful!

Lynn Truss’s does not teach the art of punctuation.  She just explains bad punctuation via anecdote, which is the reason why the book became so popular. There are no grammar lessons here, just explanations to why they are wrong.  Apart from comma, she also talks about the misuse of dots, ellipses (…), semicolon, apostrophe, colon, dash, hyphens, and periods (full stop).

In some places you feel that Truss is trying very hard to be funny. She has been successful in some places and not so successful in the others.

An example

I always use an example when I train the trainee writers in my group and I also found this example in this book too:

An English professor wrote the following words on the blackboard and directed the students to punctuate it correctly: Woman without her man is nothing.

Men wrote: Woman, without her man, is nothing.

Women wrote: Woman! Without her, man is nothing.

Punctuation is used in sentences to make the meaning clear and to make reading easier. But as you see in this example, difference in punctuation can convey absolutely different meanings. It has to be used properly, with a lot of thought and delibration.

I have seen people who use dots very liberally. They sprinkle it everywhere. (I wanted to go…………….. but……… then I decided not to ……………..) I mean they no longer remain a dot or an ellipse. It’s an unknown punctuation mark 🙂

On the whole, it is a good read. Rather people who are interested in language might like it. Others may not!

Shine at Work: Guidelines IV (13-20)

Shine at Work: Guidelines III (7-12)

 … continue

  1. Be valuable

Being valuable means taking initiatives to do what is beyond the call of duty. It means being an excellent team player, positive, dependable, reliable, and doing what needs to be done on time. It is true that no one is indispensable in this world. But you should strive to make yourself valuable in the team you work in. To gain promotion and to shine at work, make “be valuable” be a silent part of your career goals. It means that it may not be a written goal, but you need to keep it in mind every time.

You need to do the activities and tasks in such a way that you make yourself valuable. You can make yourself valuable by striving to be a key competitive advantage to your team. When you take this career promotion advice to heart you increase your chances to gain promotion.

  1. Be reliable

Being reliable means to be able to dependent upon for getting the work done, support, or help. You can become a reliable employee by changing attitudes and aligning your needs and aspirations with that of the organization.

    • If you cannot come in for work or will be late than usual, call in or send an email or text message well ahead of time.
    • Ensure to do your job with minimal error.
    • Have impeccable work habits. This means being on time to work and working to your potential without compromising on quality.
    • Ensure to complete work on time—with the required quality.
    • Be willing to pay attention, follow directions and do the job.
    • Take responsibility for what you do. This includes being accountable for any mistakes you make.
  1. Communicate proactively

We all know that communication skills form a very important part of a successful career profile. Why only in career, communication is very important in any relationship that is formed—personal and/or professional. Knowledge, expertise, and opinions are only a part of the career-centric process. Communication in any form must be simple and straightforward.

    • Communicate your problems and issues to the person you report to.
    • Communicate the project status and information with your colleagues who are involved in the same project.
    • Do not withhold information. It will not make you important. On the contrary, it will have a negative impact on the project.
    • Articulate your thoughts clearly whether it’s in person, on the phone or through email.
    • Reply to emails on time; be courteous and polite in your communication.

Be honest about your progress at work. If you are struggling with an assignment or about to miss a deadline, let your manager or team leader know about it. Keep them in the loop, instead of leaving them to know about it a later stage. Make sure you manage expectations and stay honest about your progress. This is also about communication.

10. Show enthusiasm

Be enthusiastic at work. Do every task with equal passion and enthusiasm. When you put enthusiasm into every task, work becomes easier and lighter. You begin to enjoy it too. This will help you complete the tasks with more accuracy and speed.

You may not be aware of it, but enthusiasm is contagious. It doesn’t just fuel you alone—the feeling of passion in you gets easily transferred to fellow teammates. It then fuels them to work harder for that common goal. When you work with enthusiasm, you naturally shine at work.

  1. Be flexible and adaptable

These days, technologies change very frequently. The workplace is dynamic and change of any form is inevitable.

    • Projects change—projects plans are made and then scrapped, and new ones are suggested.
    • Keep up with the changing technology and the changing times. Better, keep learning and stay ahead of it.
    • The HR policies can change. Change your mindset with it. If you don’t like it, change the company.

Be aware that you can’t control everything. Be ready and willing to compromise and embrace change. It is also good to be prepared for the unexpected.

12. Take initiative

Do not have a laid-back attitude (especially when you are new to the company). Look for challenges and learn to meet them.

    • Take initiative, come up with newer ideas, new processes.
    • Pick challenging situations and handle them successfully.
    • Do all the activities the right way and put in your efforts in the right direction.
    • Take initiative to understand to what activities you can contribute to. Just make sure that nobody else is doing it and that you are not stepping on someone else’s toes.
    • Learn a skill that will help you stand out. For example, become the person everyone goes to when they need something to proofread or when they need help with a computer program.

Shine at Work: Guidelines II (1-6)

  1. Get a feel of the big picture

After having spent some time in an organization try to relate to various processes and the related activities.

    • Get an understanding about the organization, their business, products, and customers.
    • Understand your role in the department.
    • Learn how to do the tasks that are part of your role.

Get a feel of the big picture and see how your job/project/work assignment relates to the big goal/target. Then, you will have a better understanding of your job responsibilities. This will widen your perspective and vision. Relating it to the big picture will help you enrich your job.

2. Understand the business

Try to read and get an understanding about the organization. You can increase your knowledge about your organization by understanding

    • What their business and products are?
    • What is their vision?
    • Who are the customers?
    • What are your company’s goals and objectives?
    • What is your company’s role in the marketplace?
    • What do your customers expect?
    • What makes them happy and keeps them coming back?

3.  Be positive

Do not take reviews and feedback personally. It is the review of the project, not about you! Don’t start viewing the reviewer as a personal enemy. The first thing you have to learn is to separate the person from the issue or the problem. Don’t see them as one.

 If your boss tells you that you have to improve in some area, don’t think that your boss has something personal against you. Instead, make an effort to make an improvement in that area. Use the inputs to improve your performance, be more productive, and perfect.

Apart from this, you should also:

    • Be courteous and treat others as you would like to be treated.
    • Ask for help when you need it. You don’t need to be ashamed of it.
    • Recognize your personal strength and maturity.
    • Be truthful, honest and maintain your integrity.
    • Believe in your ability to do the job well.
    • Show respect for yourself and others.
    • Be enthusiastic about your work.
    • Smile, be friendly and expect positive results.

4. Create your own identity

When you enter an organization, the setup already exists—the organizational culture, the people, and the work processes are already in place. It is up to you to create your own place and space to become part of the existing setup. It is up to you to take the initiative, become a friendly, reliable, dependable, and useful member of the team.

You must understand your potential, the requirement of the team, and then work towards making a place yourself in the team. This will help you create your own identity.

5. Have the right attitude

Come to work each day with a smile on your face, treat others with respect. Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. How you approach your day has a direct impact on you and the others. Having the right attitude constitutes of many factors, the most important are:

    • Do not insist that you are right and that others are wrong
    • Do not point fingers at the others. If you have made a mistake, owe it up. It will only show you off as a reasonable person who is brave and true enough to owe up a mistake.
    • Do not try to create tension between team members.
    • Communicate the project related information with the team members. Do not hide information (what are you going to do with it anyway? Make project pickles?)
    • Do not lie to your superiors about your team members or to your team members about your boss. Remember all these will boomerang and will come back to you with a larger impact.
    • Do not take credit for work that was not done by you or for the other’s work on sly.
    • Follow protocols. If you have to report to a team lead, do it instead of making efforts to report to the manager in various other ways.
  1. Be a Team Player

Team players work effectively with others to achieve common goals.

    • Take on the task that needs to be done, whether or not the task is part of your job description. It does not have to b assigned to you.
    • If you have time, try to help a co-worker (if there is a need for help) on a project. You will learn something new and also gain a reputation as a helpful team member.
    • Share information and knowledge with your team members.
    • Support and encourage your co-workers.
    • Respect the diversity of opinions and experiences of your co-workers.


Shine at Work: Guidelines 1

Instant gratification may be the buzzword, but it is not going to help you at your workplace.  You may be fresh out of college or a working professional with a number of years of experience, whatever the case is, you will have to prove yourself in an organization. Those with experience may have some idea what to do to shine at the workplace and make your presence felt.

Let the management feel that they have made the right choice by selecting you. They are happy, you are happy and all are happy. All is well if it ends well, isn’t it? But how does this happen? You need to follow some guidelines to shine at work.

For those who don’t know, here are some pointers:

  1. Get a feel of the big picture
  2. Understand the business
  3. Be positive
  4. Create your own identity
  5. Have the right attitude
  6. Be a team player
  7. Be valuable
  8. Be reliable
  9. Communicate proactively
  10. Show enthusiasm
  11. Be flexible and adaptable
  12. Take initiative
  13. Work hard
  14. Get out of your comfort zone
  15. Do not be a politician
  16. Avoid stress
  17. Do not complain or criticize unnecessarily
  18. Serious
  19. Be courteous
  20. Use the right words

Shine at Work: An Introduction

You may be fresh out of college or working (with a number of years of experience). Chances are you have attended many interviews and have landed with a (new) job. Isn’t it a joy of relief? Sure it is, but it is also the start of another struggle; the struggle for establishing yourself in the organization. If you have prior experience, your reputation in the previous organization will not help you establish in the new place. You have to make your efforts almost right from scratch.

Shining at work and making yourself visible to the people that matter (read management) is not a difficult job. It just depends on how you go ahead doing things at work. Remember, there are three type of employees:

  1. These who SHOW they are busy: Most of the employees go to work each day and do only the minimum required to get by. They make a big noise even if they have to put in some extra effort to complete their work. Having managed teams for more than a decade, I have often heard people say “I have loads of work to do, I think I have to skip my lunch today.

In some cases it is true and I often try to provide a helping hand if it is a continuous situation. But most of the time, people barely have work in hand and make these statements to just get the attention and show their co-workers how busy they are when they really are not.  This behavior would annoy any manager.

  1. These who ARE busy: There are some employees who work really hard at their jobs. They work hard and do just what they are asked to do. Things end there. They don’t go beyond their job requirements.

This makes them good employees who you can trust to complete their work on time.

  1. Those who keep themselves busy: There are a handful of employees who gladly do whatever is asked of them and then check if there is something else they can do over and beyond the call of duty. Sometimes they do it even without being asked. They go BEYOND their role!

Which category do you fall into? Dong well at work is not just more getting the job done. It is also about building and keeping a solid reputation and positive relationships in the workplace. Performing well at work will make you feel satisfied and fulfilled. Your manager and peers will appreciate your efforts. Doing well at work also means investing in your future. It opens the door(s) to promotions and advancement in career.

When you establish yourself in the organization, you should etch a place of your own for yourself. At work, you should be noticed for all the right reasons. The most effective way to do this is to show your employer that hiring you was a great decision.

As of the freshers you might be worried about what the others think of you, if someone else will be better than you, or how you can do better than someone else. What you fail to understand is that initially, you have to concentrate on their assigned projects and do good and quality work. Every individual has their own identity and their own place in an organization. No one can replace you or take your place and similarly, you cannot replace anyone. So instead of thinking of taking someone else’s place, concentrate on making your own place.