The young unnamed heroine tells her story in retrospect. While working as companion to a wealthy American woman, she meets and marries the mature Maxim de Winter. He takes her to live at his ancestral home, Manderley. There, the new Mrs de Winter discovers that Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, drowned in suspicious circumstances.
Rebecca is a modern gothic novel where many aspects of the story correspond to the plot of Jane Eyre: a love story between a young woman and an older man, the burning to the ground of Manderley and the mystery surrounding a previous wife.