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#171 ~ My Cousin Rachel

cover-of-my-cousin-rachel

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Philip Ashley, orphaned at an early age, was raised unconventionally  by his older bachelor cousin Ambrose.  Ambrose owns the estate and 500 acres on which they live. Ambrose did not care to have women around, so Philip’s exposure to the fairer sex was quite minimal.  He only regularly was in the company of the women in his vicar’s life and Louise, his godfather’s daughter.  As Philip grew into early adulthood, Ambrose’s health dictated that he spend the winters abroad.  He never came back from him fourth winter away.  Instead, he met, fell in love with, and married their distant cousin Rachel, who was born and raised in Florence.  When Ambrose succumbs to what is believed to be a hereditary brain tumor  before returning to Cornwall with his bride, Philip suspects foul play based upon letters Ambrose sent before his death. He is intent on making Rachel suffer for what happened to his cousin and mentor, but is he right in believing that she was behind such evil deeds?

I've got to see this!

I've got to see this!

I absolutely loved and enjoyed this novel from start to finish.  Phillip’s remembrance of the body left to rot from the gibbett three weeks after a hanging sets the reader in the right frame of mind to ride the roller coaster of Phillip’s thoughts, plans, and emotions.  As much as he complained that Louise and even Rachel ran hot one minute and cold the next, Philip need only read a posthumas letter from Ambrose or listen to a sob story to do exactly the same thing.  I loved how he sulked when Rachel gave others her attention and how he preened when she smiled upon him.  Oftentimes, men and women are not all that different.  As much as Philip did not like to be viewed as a child, most especially by any man who might capture Rachel’s attention, he was so very immature in the matters of the heart.  He failed to see and appreciate the unfailing affection of the one woman who knew him best – and loved him regardless.
 
Rachel is truly a character and deserving of the title credits.  As Philip pondered who she was and what she looked like, so did I.  The chapter in which she finally makes her  appearance is a suspenseful to me as the ending.  I wanted to know who this woman was.  I wanted to know what such a woman looked like.  While I was apprehensive of Philip’s initial desire for revenge against Ambrose’s wife, I never really quite knew where anyone ever stood with her.  My opinions flip-flopped along with Philips until he make his fateful decision.  At that point, I wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him.  All the while, I was hoping that his trust and faith in her was justified.  Rachel was in league with Scarlett O’Hara, except that their motivations are completely different.  Rachel is almost as sinister as she is selfish, making Scarlett more transparent.  Her downfall in my eyes, however, was that she was unable to brush aside unpleasant realities with Scarlett’s  “Fidle-dee-dee” attitude.

After enjoying Frenchman’s Creek so much, I was a little concerned about how I would feel about My Cousin Rachel.  I didn’t want to expect too much.  I simply did not want to be disappointed.  I most certainly was not. For me, the writing was as beautiful as I have come to expect from du Maurier.  I would rank this novel right up there with the way I remember Rebecca.  It did not have as much humor as Frenchman’s Creek, but the level of humor matched the tone of the novel perfectly.  The ending serves really to expand the mystery surrounding Rachel.  I’m not so sure there could be a happy ending for anyone she set her sights upon.  As I finished this novel last night, I vowed to read all of her novels.  She is just that good.  The only thing I can’t say for certain is whether this book would be better read in front of  a roaring fire with a glass of red wine or while lounging around on a beach or at the pool with a daiquiri. Either way, is there a better recommendation for a novel?

*****

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13 Comments

  • At 2009.06.10 13:19, Kimmy said:

    Great review! I LOVE Daphne Du Maurier. She’s by far my favorite author. My Cousin Rachel is excellent. Glad you enjoyed!

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    • At 2009.06.10 13:29, Kathy said:

      Great review. I’ve never read any of Du Maurier’s work – for some reason, I thought it was girly romance. After your reviews, I feel I’ve really missed something.

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      • At 2009.06.10 13:31, Belle said:

        What a gorgeous review! I have only ever read Rebecca, and I think it’s time I change that. Right now I feel like the beach …

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        • At 2009.06.10 13:34, Amy @ Passages to the Past said:

          Boy am I glad I already posted my review, cause after reading yours I know I would’ve scraped the whole thing and started again! Great review!

          Amy @ Passages to the Past’s last blog post..Review: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

          • At 2009.06.10 13:35, rhapsodyinbooks said:

            Sounds pretty interesting! Good review!

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            • At 2009.06.10 14:44, Sandy said:

              I have yet to read one of DuMaurier’s books, but I recently won My Cousin Rachel, and I am PSYCHED to read this book! Based on the plots of all of her books I’ve read, I can’t imagine not falling in love with her.

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              • At 2009.06.10 20:29, Literate Housewife said:

                Kimmy, I still love your email address. You are her biggest fan! Other than Rebecca, which is your favorite du Maurier novel?

                Kathy, you will not regret it. du Maurier has so much more depth than a general romance novel.

                Belle, thank you so much! Please take a picture of you on your lounge chair reading this book (and have a drink for me, too).

                Amy, do not even say that! Your review is great!

                Rhapsody, thanks!

                Sandy, what are you waiting for?!?!? 🙂

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                • At 2009.06.10 20:45, Melissa @ Melissa's Bookshelf said:

                  Great review! I really must read something by Daphne Du Maurier soon, there’s no excuse!! Now to choose which book! 🙂

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                  • At 2009.06.11 09:17, lauren said:

                    TAG!

                    • At 2009.06.11 16:43, Nymeth said:

                      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this so much! I’ve read Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and The Birds and I loved them all to bits. I really look forward to reading more by her.

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                      • At 2009.06.12 15:26, Care said:

                        and I want to see the movie! and read the book… but I adore Olivia DeHavilland.

                        • At 2009.06.13 13:18, Darlene said:

                          Great review Jennifer. I wish I had gotten this one when I got Frenchman’s Creek but sadly I didn’t. I will have to read it one day though because it does sound so good. I’ve got Rebecca on my shelf and I really need to pick it up. Glad you liked this one!

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