I’ve just finished My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier and what a satisfying read this was. There was a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, there were betrayals and best of all an ending that left me surprised and wondering which one of the characters did I believe.
From the very beginning we know that there will be intrigue. Here’s how Philip starts his tale of his cousin Rachel.
“The point is, life has to be endured, and lived. But how to live it is the problem. The work of day by day presents no difficulties. I shall become a Justice of the Peace, as Ambrose was, and also be returned, one day, to Parliament. I shall continue to be honoured and respected, like all my family before me. Farm the land well, look after the people. No one will ever guess the burden of blame I carry on my shoulders; nor will they know that every day, haunted still by doubt, I ask myself a question which I cannot answer. Was Rachel innocent or guilty? Maybe I shall learn that too, in purgatory.”
Rachel is the woman Philip was determined to hate without even having met her. When his cousin Ambrose, who was like a father figure to Philip, goes to Italy he encounters Rachel, a distant cousin who is living in Italy. Through infrequent letters, Philip finds out of a whirlwind courtship and marriage between the two. Philip isn’t happy and worse yet when one letter he receives and it sounds like it comes from a madman, he goes to Italy himself to save his uncle.
Philip arrives too late though as Ambrose has died and Rachel has left Italy. Upon his return to Cornwall, Philip he learns that Ambrose has left him everything, the land, jewels, etc. and nothing for his wife. This suits him fine but one day a letter arrives with the news that Cousin Rachel has come for a visit.
For too long Philip has created an image in his mind of Rachel. She, the evil woman who insinuated herself into his cousin’s good graces. A foreigner who probably had something to do with his uncle’s death but what a surprise will be in store for Philip. When he meets the beautiful woman and she seems to want nothing for herself he begins to feel differently for her, so much so, that the reader knows his feelings go much deeper than he will even admit to himself.
Filled with gothic suspense this novel will no doubt have you wondering too as to what are Rachel’s real motivations and what will happen to the main characters. I throughly enjoyed this book and the characters. Actually one of my favorite characters is Louise who is Philip’s childhood friend. I thought it was interesting that from Philip’s description of her she would seem a bit like a silly girl but in the end there’s a scene where I think she really showed him that she was much more astute than what he had given her credit for.
A thank you to Sourcebooks for sending me this book. The only Du Maurier book I’d ever read before was Rebecca but now I can’t wait to read more. Do you have a favorite book of hers that you’d recommend? And, has anyone seen the film version of this book? I think I’ll have to see if I can find a copy. Would love to see it.