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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
2,087603,165 (3.89)211
Member:Clurb
Title:My Cousin Rachel (Virago Modern Classics)
Authors:Daphne Du Maurier
Other authors:Sally Beauman (Introduction)
Info:
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 211 mentions

English (57)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Philip Ashley has always looked up to his older cousin Ambrose as almost a God figure. Ambrose, haven taken in his orphaned cousin when he was just a toddler, has raised him in his image in a male-only environment, where the company of women was only tolerated when absolutely necessary. Having no other dependents, Ambrose has long ago decided Philip is to be his heir. The two have almost never been apart, save when Philip went to school and university, but when he returns home the older cousin must travel to warmer climes for health reasons, and it is decided Philip must stay behind in Cornwall to look after the estate. While away in Florence, the impossible happens, Ambrose meets a woman, half English, half Italian and a distant relation and falls in love with her, and shortly after, marries her. But things quickly take a dramatic turn, and within eighteen months, Ambrose's health has suffered a terrible decline and his letters are more and more frenzied, even accusing his wife of poisoning him. Philip hurries off to Italy at Ambrose's request, but arrives there too late, Ambrose has just been burried and his cousin, Ambrose's wife Rachel, has packed all his things and left her villa and gone no one knows where. Discouraged and in deep grief, Philiip returns to Cornwall and to the estate he will come to inherit soon, on his 25th birthday. He has vowed to take his revenge upon Rachel, whom he imagines to be a horrid old crone. Until Rachel arrives in England, and Philip feels compelled to invite her to stay over so he can exact his revenge upon her. Of course, he could not have expected he would fall in love with Rachel too, petite and unassuming, despite his terrible suspicions. And after all, it doesn't seem quite right that Ambrose hasn't made any provisions for her in his last will and testament.

This was a terrific page-turner and I felt compelled to read on to discover who this enigma that is Rachel really is. Is she an angel or a devil? Is she a little bit of both? Is she loving or calculating? Is she playing games? And what are Philip's real motives? Is he really Ambrose's clone as everyone else seems to think he is? This novel has all the suspense and taut atmosphere I loved in Rebecca, to which it has been compared to, only here we have a living woman to puzzle over as opposed to a mere ghost. All the same, she is impossible to pin down.

My rating (just under 4 stars, which the LT system doesn't allow for) perhaps doesn't reflect just how much enjoyment I got out of this reading experience, and perhaps leans a bit too much on the disappointment I felt with the ending, which left many questions unanswered. But as I think it over, I wonder if this doesn't on the contrary add to the charm the book operates on the reader, who might feel compelled to return to it time and time again to try work out a little bit more of the riddle that is Rachel, as is sure to be the case with me. ( )
2 vote Smiler69 | Jul 15, 2014 |
I picked up this book because I was in the mood for an old "classic". I was not disappointed! I had such a difficult time putting this novel down; I was somewhat stressed out until I could finish it and find out what the outcome was.

Philip is an orphan who was raised by his beloved uncle, Ambrose. Philip and Ambrose had never been apart except when Philip attended school until, when Philip is in his early 20's, Ambrose is forced to winter in the Mediterranean because of rheumatic problems. Here he meets and marries a relative, Rachel. Ambrose's letters to Philip start off full of joy and excitement but progressively become more erratic and frightening. Philip finally can stand it no longer and goes to find Ambrose, only to discover he had recently died and was buried. Rachel has disappeared with all of Ambrose's belongings. Ambrose did not finalize a will to include his new wife so she has no part in the estate and no income.

He returns home to England, bitter and vengeful, only to have Rachel appear at the estate shortly thereafter. She is not at all what he expects. He becomes infatuated with her but is still haunted by fears. Is she only after the estate and is she a murderess?

Part suspense, part psychological drama, part romance. Very well written! ( )
1 vote HelenLiang | Jul 6, 2014 |
Read during Winter 2003/2004

Ripping Good Yarn (or perhaps a Thumping Good Read) with a bit of mystery, romance, and curiously enignmatic ending. I'll have to go find the movie, Oliva de Haviland, I believe.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
An enjoyable psychological drama. In my view, this novel compares favourably to Rebecca and Jamaica Inn. ( )
  cazfrancis | Apr 23, 2014 |
My Cousin Rachel is a great suspense novel - I think it is even better than du Maurier's Rebecca. Unlike Rebecca, this is a historical fiction set in mid-nineteenth century Cornwall. Although du Maurier never specifies the exact date, she leaves clues which set the timeframe (such as the opening scene of the book, in which Philip Ashley describes seeing the body of a criminal hanging at a crossroads when he was 7). I believe that this absence of dates was deliberately done to add to the timeless feeling of the psychological drama which plays out.

One aspect that raised this book from 4 to 5 stars is the way du Maurier leaves the question of Rachel's guilt or innocence open. I know that I believe as Philip did at the end, that Rachel had been poisoning him and had poisoned Ambrose, but as Louise points out, there is no evidence. du Maurier also leaves us to judge whether Philip is justified in the actions that he takes - is he guilty of murder (or more accurately manslaughter)? If Rachel really had poisoned Ambrose and gotten away with it, is it poetic justice for Philip to cause her "accidental" death? What if she was innocent of poisoning but guilty of manipulation of Philip's emotions for mercenary gains?

Ironically, although Rachel is described many times as being impulsive, Philip is the one who actually acts impulsively throughout the story. ( )
1 vote leslie.98 | Mar 29, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daphne du Maurierprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pryce, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They used to hang men at Four Turnings in the old days.
My Cousin Rachel is a novel of great technical assurance. (Introduction)
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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.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:49 -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 2 descriptions

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