“My Cousin Rachel” by Daphne du Maurier (1951) – book review

If you enjoyed “Rebecca” then there is every likelihood you will find much to love about the far more tangible Rachel.

The back of the book is likely to tell you that the story hangs on what happens in the very first few pages, so no spoilers here – the narrator Philip’s much-loved and benevolent uncle Ambrose pops over to Florence, where despite his ridiculous name he enjoys a whirlwind romance (who doesn’t), marries without a second thought (still with you), and then comes to an untimely and swift demise (oh blast).

So far so disastrous. What could Daphne possibly do now to retain our interest?Well, the extraordinary thing about this tale that we are fully and inexorably drawn into Philip’s unreliable world, up until that point blissfully certain, with his future all mapped out for him. And then Cousin Rachel turns up on his doorstep…

I do wholeheartedly recommend you give “My Cousin Rachel” the once over. This lady writer certainly did know how to spin a good yarn – and if you thought the second Mrs de Winter needed a good shake you’ll feel like smacking young Philip at times. Skimming down the comments on ‘Good Reads’, the phrase ‘did she or didn’t she?’ pops up out of the page a number of times, and with good reason. We should put it to the vote – guilty or not guilty? Answers on a postcard please…

Read in September 2014.

Rating : 10/10

Image taken from here.
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4 Responses to “My Cousin Rachel” by Daphne du Maurier (1951) – book review

  1. Pingback: “Burial Rites” by Hannah Kent (2013) – book review | Literary ramblings etc

  2. susan says:

    She is one of my favourite writers, her stories and novels are so wonderfully dark, distinctly feminine and as far removed from ‘chic lit’ as one could desire! There was a much criticised dramatisation of Jamaica Inn on TV recently, but I loved it. It was relentlessly murky, gloomy, menacing and muddy and several of the actors ‘mumbled’ a lot of Cornish accented text, but that particular story is really morbid so what are you going to do?!
    I actually had bad dreams after reading one of her short stories where the ‘heroine’ wakes from a sort of coma or illness in a hospital bed and all the people she sees, doctors, visitors, relatives have the heads of animals, animals that express the nature of their true selves, it ends with her looking in a mirror and seeing….. spoiler alert………..’.a lamb to the slaughter’
    I have a great audio book with Mel Gibson reading My Cousin Rachel but it didn’t chill as much as some other tales by DDM.
    Here is a link to a DDM annual festival next week where they are reading her stories non-stop for 24 hours!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan, this is all grist to my mill!!! and makes me aware of how much is going on at home around literary events etc – worth planning trips around the different festivals, but how to know about them in advance??
    Do you remember also the “Don’t Look Now” short story that became what for me was one of the scariest films ever.
    I didn’t see the Jamaica Inn series as was before my VPN days but did think I would have liked it, not my very favourite read but can imagine the brooding rendition. Still have more du Maurier to get to, eventually…xx


  4. susan says:

    Like! Don’t look now the scariest thing ever!

    Liked by 1 person

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