My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier

Verdict: Not as good as Rebecca.

Philip, the protagonist of My Cousin Rachel, has been raised by his bachelor cousin Ambrose.  Ambrose goes away to Italy, marries there, and a few years later sends a letter to Philip intimating that he is in danger, and asking Philip to come to Italy straight away.  When Philip gets there, Ambrose has died, and Rachel is gone.  He conceives a hatred for her, believing that she was responsible for Ambrose’s death; but when she comes to stay with him in England, he falls for her straight away.  Is she evil?  Did she poison Ambrose, and is she poisoning Philip now?  Spooooooky.

I liked Rachel.  You can see why Philip falls in love with her – like Rebecca, she absolutely deserves to have the book called after her.  And like the protagonist of Rebecca, Philip is never completely sure where he stands, but unlike poor Mrs. de Winter, Philip is determined to be sure (act sure).  For me, this made all the difference – he drove me insane and I wanted to slap him.  Seriously, guy, ever hear of black and white thinking?  Also called splitting?  This is symptomatic of some really unpleasant personality disorders, and you could maybe think about curbing that tendency.  I couldn’t figure out why his godfather’s daughter liked him so much, good heavens.

On the other hand, Philip’s extremism makes possible something I love, which is that we see Rachel through his eyes, but that the rest of the characters all have things to say about her too.  So we can see that other people are reacting to her charm, the same way Philip does, but we can also see things that Philip refuses to look at or acknowledge – her extravagance, the way it looks to have her living in the house with him.  It keeps you guessing, and you never are sure whether she’s poisoning him, and poisoned Ambrose.  Per usual Daphne du Maurier writes beautifully and uses some gorgeous images.

Er, but it’s still not as good as Rebecca.  I love me some Rebecca.

Other reviews:

books i done read
Bookfoolery and Babble
Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-a-holic
The Literate Housewife
a lovely shore breeze
S. Krishna’s Books
Once Upon a Bookshelf
Stuck in a Book
we be reading
book-a-rama

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6 thoughts on “My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier

  1. Definitely try it! I’m sort of in the mood for some gothic novels, so I’m thinking I’ll read a bunch more Daphne du Maurier too. Love her writing.

  2. Rebecca remains my favourite of all her novels. Nothing else was quite as good, although I enjoyed this one a lot, and I enjoyed Frenchman’s Creek too, when I was much younger.

  3. So true! My mum has suggested that Rebecca is BETTER than Jane Eyre. I am not sure I can go along with this sort of madness, but it certainly is a wonderful wonderful book.

  4. I agree with your very quick verdict! Rebecca was so very, very good that each less-good Daphne du M book I read makes me feel sadder and sadder…

    • The trick is not to read a lot of them all at once. I read Rebecca in high school, and since then I’ve read exactly two other books by Daphne du Maurier. A few years from now I’ll read another one. That way I’ll never feel really glum about their inferiority.

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