Book: My Cousin Rachel
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Summary: One of the world's greatest storytellers, Daphne du Maurier spins a dark gothic tale of passion and unswerving love that turns to suspicion and fear. Rachel, a woman of exquisite beauty, descends on the great Cornwall estate of Philip Ashley. Despite his aroused suspicions, she soon enchants him. In this tale of good and evil, Philip must decide whether the glorious Rachel, the recent mysterious widow of his beloved cousin, is out to destroy him or is the innocent victim of devious men with a tremendous longing to be loved. His fate and his future lie in the answer to this deadly question. -Sourcebooks, 1951.
Having read only Rebecca, I was excited to read more of du Maurier's work. I was basically inspired to read this one because of the adaptation that was made a year or two ago.
Philip Ashley has been raised without any female influence by his much older cousin. When said cousin marries a widow named Rachel, Philip thinks his bachelor's paradise has been shattered. But after his cousin dies under mysterious circumstances, Philip is determined to prove Rachel is at fault and get revenge. But will he succeed or is Rachel more of a challenge than he thought?
Du Maurier really does have a way of setting a scene and creating an atmosphere. Like Rebecca, the narration begins in the present and bleeds into the past. Philip is a young man who may be on the cusp of adulthood, but is still like a child in many, many ways.
He is written so simply in comparison with Rachel, a character who is exotic, mysterious, and complicated. Philip and Rachel juxtapose each other well and their relationship is the driving force of the novel. As a side note, I love how du Maurier uses her writing to show how Philip changes in his relationship with Rachel. You can tell how he feels about her simply by the way he addresses her - it's so clever and I love that touch. No need for pages of realizations and telling the reader how Philip feels. Du Maurier uses character and environment to show how things have changed. That's a talent that is rarely seen now.
The plot itself was not as exciting as Rebecca. I can't really say why. This book almost feels like . . . a prequel to Rebecca of sorts. I'd have to see which was published first. It's a similar basic plot - an innocent person is exposed to the complications of the world, but it's a universal plot so that doesn't bother me. My Cousin Rachel isn't a bad book by any means. It's thrilling and suspenseful - it just wasn't as exciting as Rebecca.
If you're just being introduced to du Maurier, this book would be a good start. If you've already read Rebecca, I would only read this if you're a devoted du Maurier fan.
I give My Cousin Rachel an A.
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