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My Cousin Rachel (Virago Modern Classics) by…
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My Cousin Rachel (Virago Modern Classics) (original 1951; edition 2003)

by Daphne Du Maurier, Sally Beauman (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,243682,861 (3.91)262
Member:Clurb
Title:My Cousin Rachel (Virago Modern Classics)
Authors:Daphne Du Maurier
Other authors:Sally Beauman (Introduction)
Info:Virago (2003), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Kindle
Rating:****
Tags:january 2013, modern classic, women, murder

Work details

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier (1951)

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» See also 262 mentions

English (65)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (68)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
From my blog

I read Rebecca in 2012 and it is now an all time favourite, top 3 of all time. After reading this one, My Cousin Rachel I realize the amazing Daphne Du Maurier writing is memorable. It should be read slowly and fully enjoyed. Just like the best tasting wine or tea that you smell, allow to stay on your tongue, enjoy while steaming hot but is just as good when luke warm, the older it gets or the longer it steams, the better, ohhh yes, Du Maurier takes you on an incredible journey with her writing. Even though I didn't love the story as much as Rebecca I appreciated her writing even more.

Phillip told the story of him and Ambrose's life, living in the mansion without any females, including the help around the home. When Ambrose goes away and marries, Phillip doesn't understand but this is where the mystery starts as Ambrose dies suddenly and Phillip receives letters from him that allows you to assume on the circumstances and make judgments on his widow. Phillip wants to hate his cousin Rachel but once she comes to visit you see the spell put over Phillip immediately.

The naïve, no experience with woman Phillip was done so well, completely irrational and funny. I enjoyed laughing at his expense and rolling my eyes at him. I also felt sorry for him because in my opinion Rachel was a manipulator. The great suspense throughout the story is surrounding Rachel, is she what Phillip believes, is she to blame for Ambrose death? Then comes the unethical puppy love, due to his lack of experience, it was embarrassing to read but suspenseful to see how it all comes together. I thought oh Rachel, you are good.

The ending is mysterious, you know something bad is going to happen and when it does you are left with so many questions, in an amazing way. I think both Rachel and Phillip are impulsive. The difference is in experience, understanding consequences to actions, Phillip needs time to mature.

You will enjoy the debate thoughts you have at the end. Was Rachel to blame or not - what do you think?

Favourite Quotes

It was happening so quickly that I had no time, no moment for reflection back upon the hundred images I had formed of her during the past eighteen months. The woman who had pursued me through the night and days, haunted my waking hours, disturbing my dreams, was now beside me. Page 87

'There are some women, Phillip,' he observed, 'good women very possibly, who through no fault of their own impel disaster. Whatever they touch, somehow turns to tragedy. I don't know why I say this to you, but I feel I must.' page 282

...truth was something intangible, unseen, which sometimes we stumbled upon and did not recognize, but was found, and held, and understood only by old people near their death, or sometimes by the very purse, the very young. page 316 ( )
  marcejewels | Feb 10, 2016 |
Didn't finish. Only gave it about 50 pages, but I guess I'm just not in the mood to read about a lovable misogynist and the guy who idolizes him. The number of disparaging comments made about women—with only two female characters even having been introduced yet!—was pretty impressive for so few pages.
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |


“We were dreamers, both of us, unpractical, reserved, full of great theories never put to test, and, like all dreamers, asleep to the waking world. Disliking our fellow men, we craved affection; but shyness kept impulse dormant until the heart was touched. When that happened the heavens opened, and we felt, the pair of us, that we had the whole wealth of the universe to give.”

Philip Ashley, orphaned at a young age, has been brought up by his older cousin Ambrose. The two of them are so close, that Philip has become like him:

“Well, it was what I always wanted. To be like him. To have his height, his shoulders, his way of stooping, even his long arms, his rather clumsy-looking hands, his sudden smile, his shyness at first meeting with a stranger, his dislike of fuss, of ceremony.”

Philip is heir to the estate as Ambrose is single and childless. And Du Maurier is careful to set up the household as a rather masculine one, devoid of feminine charms.

So it is to everyone’s surprise that Ambrose, on a tour of Italy, meets Cousin Rachel, a distant relative born and brought up in Italy and now a widow with “a load of debts and a great empty villa”. But as she is a “sensible woman and good company”, Ambrose writes that they are spending plenty of time together. And some months later tells Philip that they are married.

Philip is rather horrified at the thought, feeling more alone than ever before. And pretty much resolves to detest Cousin Rachel:
“One moment middle-aged and forceful, the next simpering and younger than Louise, my cousin Rachel had a dozen personalities or more, and each one more hateful than the last.”

But the tone of Ambrose’s letters change. They become strained and suspicious. And worried Philip heads to Italy to find the truth. And there he learns that his dearest Ambrose is dead, of a brain tumor, according to Rachel’s doctors.

He returns home, now master of the estate. And learns that Cousin Rachel is headed to his very shores. He is still determined to hate her, and continues to build up this villain, this ogre in his mind. But they meet and he does not know what to make of this diminutive, charming woman who threads her way into his life, his household.

I would like to say more but I think the rest of it is perhaps best discovered on your own, as I had a wonderful time doing so myself. I pretty much spent wee reader’s nap time racing my way through the second half of this book. This book just kept me wondering, what next? And there was also plenty of: ‘nooooooo! Don’t do that!’ and ‘Are you crazy?’

So it was frustrating.

Not that it was a difficult read, but because I felt so invested in the story, in the characters (perhaps I felt for this motherless youth, for his naivety?), that I just was so exasperated by what seemed like all the wrong decisions.

And du Maurier leaves us at the end, still wondering. Was Cousin Rachel really that diabolical? Or were they all just victims of rather unfortunate circumstances?

I can’t help but compare My Cousin Rachel to Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger. Both having similar situations – ownership of a manor, tangled relationships, webs of deceit. For me, My Cousin Rachel was a better read, perhaps because I did not despise the narrator (Philip) as much as The Little Stranger‘s Dr Faraday. And in both books, the reader is left hanging. There are conclusions of a sort, but plenty of questions left unanswered. But in the case of My Cousin Rachel, I found myself turning back to the front of the book and starting the first chapter over. And then finding all these hints and clues that Du Maurier had dropped along the way. I think I would have reread this all over again, except for the fact that it was due back at the library… perhaps this just means I need my own copy?

This review was first posted on my blog Olduvai Reads ( )
  olduvai | Jan 19, 2016 |
This is a wonderful classic psychological thriller that really messes with your mind. Even the end keeps you scrambling "Did he...? or Did she...?" Oh my....! ( )
  TerriS | Jan 17, 2016 |
My Cousin Rachel is haunting and suspenseful and will probably linger in my mind for days. The tone is very similar to Rebecca, but I found it to be more subtle. It kept me guessing until the very end. I won't say anything about the plot or characters out of fear of spoiling anything, and I recommend avoiding reading too much about this book beforehand. ( )
  ApatheticPetunias | Jan 4, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daphne Du Maurierprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pryce, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My Cousin Rachel is a novel of great technical assurance.
They used to hang men at Four Turnings in the old days.
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She has done for me at last, Rachel my torment.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
VIRAGO EDITION:
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 come to love his grand house as much as he does himself. But the cosy world to two have constructed is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to FLorence. There he falls in love amd marries - and there he dies suddenly.

In almost no time at all, the new widow - Philip's cousin Rachel - turns up in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious woman like a moth to a flame. And yet...might she have had a hand in Ambrose's death?
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440159938, Mass Market Paperback)

Ambrose Ashley, Philip's cousin, married Rachel in Italy, and died there. 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. The author also wrote "Rebecca".

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

I threw the piece of paper on the fire. She saw it burn ...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. In almost no time at all, the new widow - Philip's cousin Rachel - turns up in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious woman like a moth to the flame. And yet ...might she have had a hand in Ambrose's death?… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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