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My Cousin Rachel (Virago Modern Classics) by…

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

by Daphne Du Maurier, Sally Beauman (Introduction)

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2,163623,004 (3.9)254
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
Tags:january 2013, modern classic, women, murder

Work details

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (1951)

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» See also 254 mentions

English (59)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
This Daphne du Maurier classic is full of intrigue and secrets, and driven by the dangerous charisma of a woman whose motives and aim are essentially unknown. With an unreliable narrator and a fascinatingly complex title character, it's a tantalising and unsettling novel. For a full review, please see my blog:
http://theidlewoman.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/my-cousin-rachel-daphne-du-maurier.ht... ( )
  Leander2010 | May 10, 2015 |
A classic Daphne du Maurier tale which keeps you gripped until the end. The story is narrated through Philip Ashley, who becomes obsessed with his cousin Rachel, the Italian widow of his late uncle. Philip is an unpleasant and misonyistic young man who is self centred and easily riled. Following his displeasure at his uncle's marriage, he decides to snub his uncle's widow but on her arrival, he falls under her spell and becomes infatuated with the exotic other - his Italian aunt. His obsession knows no bounds and he takes one wild decision after another until all falls apart. Du Maurier never lets us know too much about Rachel and it's unclear whether she is a femme fatale and gold digger or whether she is a free spirit who has to be tamed by the stuffy class sensibilities of the Cornish gentry. Wonderful story telling. ( )
  sianpr | Apr 6, 2015 |
I should start off by saying that I have loved every Daphne Du Maurier book that I have read, and even though it has been years since I‘ve read one of hers, My Cousin Rachel was no exception. Once again Du Maurier exceeded my expectations and delivered an atmospheric, spellbinding story that kept me on the edge of my seat with anxiety over the “Did she or didn’t she” question that saturated every page.

Set in 19th century Cornwall and Florence, Italy, this psychological suspense story builds slowly as we read about the main character, Philip Ashley and his obsession with his uncles’ widow, Rachel as to whether she had a hand in his uncles’ death. Before meeting her he is highly suspicious but after she has come to his estate in Cornwall, her beauty, gentle manners and humor sway him in another direction entirely.

Of course, Philip is an unreliable narrator as he only believes what he wants to and adjusts his viewpoint according to his mood. His angst along with his puppy-dog devotion and his juvenile way of looking at things made it difficult to see the real Rachel. Was she the gentle Madonna or the evil fortune hunter or does the truth stretch to encompass both these views?

An expert at manipulating her readers, Daphne Du Maurier draws us along, setting the mood to match the well described weather and changing our viewpoint accordingly. This constant feeling of unease had me looking at Philip and his immaturity at one moment and in the next peering with distrust at Rachel. As Philip was drawn to the woman, Rachel, like a moth to a flame so to was I drawn into this story. And as to the final outcome, well suffice to say Daphne Du Maurier was a great storyteller and certainly knew how to portray the dark side of human nature. A rich subtle read that I highly recommend. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Mar 15, 2015 |
Six-word review: Dazzlingly confident display of storytelling finesse.

Extended review:

Here's a virtuoso performance: an author who expertly manages her reader's perceptions through what's said--and how it's said--and what's left unsaid.

I'd call this a doozy of a psychological thriller, one that had me going right from the first page. Deftly interlacing love and madness with doubt and delusion, du Maurier raises ambiguity to a fine art. Is Rachel what she seems or isn't she? And what, exactly, does she seem? Does she change, or is she the constant, the touchstone, the reality with which other experiences collide?

Is the first-person speaker simply an unreliable narrator, trapped in assumptions and false conclusions, or are there layers to his ingenuousness? Whose suspicions are warranted? Whose is the voice of reason?

If you don't find yourself going back and rethinking things after reaching the end--and more: if you saw it coming--then my hat's off to you. I'd say it was done with mirrors, but in fact it was done with consummate skill.

Published about midway in du Maurier's fiction-writing career, My Cousin Rachel tops both The Scapegoat and the better-known Rebecca in my book. After the letdown of The House on the Strand, I'm glad I gave this author's work another try. ( )
3 vote Meredy | Dec 1, 2014 |
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 |
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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.
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
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)

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