Goodreads | first published 1951
Goodreads description: Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries – and there he dies suddenly. Jealous of his marriage, racked by suspicion at the hints in Ambrose’s letters, and grief-stricken by his death, Philip prepares to meet his cousin’s widow with hatred in his heart. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious Rachel like a moth to the flame. And yet . . . might she have had a hand in Ambrose’s death?
I wanted to read My Cousin Rachel because I really enjoyed Rebecca. I’ve also heard a lot of good things about My Cousin Rachel. Somehow I managed to confuse what the book was about, so it was completely different than I expected. But I liked it!
My Cousin Rachel is a story told by Philip, who is in his 20’s. He is an orphan and he grew up with his Uncle Ambrose. He’s also Ambrose’s heir. He loves his uncle dearly. Ambrose is getting up there in years and goes away from rainy England to sunny Italy and meets Cousin Rachel. Marriage happens and Philip isn’t happy. Then Uncle A dies and. . .what next? Well Philip received letters from Uncle A that made him suspicious. Then Rachel comes to England and Philip is intrigued and drawn to her, but still kind of suspicious, but still drawn to her.
Throughout the whole story, I had an idea of what was going to happen. I was so sure. But du Maurier is tricky and definitely proved me wrong. The ending was a shock.. And it’s frustrating but it’s also really awesome. I’m left wondering and itching to know what happens after the reeling.
Even though sometimes I was screaming at Philip to not be such an idiot, I still felt sympathetic for him. I think Louise is probably my favorite character and she has a relatively small part. I have no clue how to feel about Rachel. I don’t think I liked her, but I can’t bring myself to hate her. I was completely fascinated by her.
And du Maurier’s writing is so lovely. Here are some highlights:
How soft and gentle her name sounds when I whisper it. It lingers on the tongue, insidious and slow, almost like poison, which is apt indeed. It passes from the tongue to the parched lips, and from the lips back tot he heart. And the heart controls the body, and the mind also. Shall I be free of it one day? In forty, in fifty years? Or will some lingering trace of matter in the brain stay pallid and diseased? Some minuscule cell in the blood stream fail to race with its fellows to the fountain heart? Perhaps, when all is said and done, I shall have no wish to be free. As yet, I cannot tell.
Her hands were clasped on her lap in front of her. I had never seen hands so small before on an adult person. They were very slender, very narrow, like the hands of someone in a portrait painted by an old master and left unfinished.
“No,” she said, “I would have welcomed a pedestal, after my rough life. A halo can be a lovely thing, providing you can take it off, now and again, and become human.”
So, I really liked My Cousin Rachel. It wasn’t a favorite, but it was really enjoyable and messed with my mind. Daphne du Maurier is amazing and I want to read more of her work. If you’re interested in Gothic tales of mystery with pretty words, I think you’d like this one!
Have you read My Cousin Rachel? Did you like it or no? Have you read Rebecca? What were your thoughts on that? Have you read anything else by du Maurier, have any recs for similar stories?
Let me know!