My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel

by Daphne du Maurier

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Overview

From the bestselling author of Rebecca, another classic set in beautiful and mysterious Cornwall.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402217098
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 03/01/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 394
Sales rank: 95,859
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Daphne du Maurier was born in London in 1907, the second daughter of a famous stage actor and actress. Her first novel was published in 1931, but it was her 1938 novel Rebecca which made her one of the most successful writers of her time. Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of the book won the Best Picture Oscar in 1940, and he used her material again for his classic The Birds. In 1969, Du Maurier was created a Dame of the British Empire.

At the age of 81, Du Maurier died at home in her beloved Cornwall, the region that had been the setting for many of her books.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter One

They used to hang men at Four Turnings in the old days.

Not any more, though. Now, when a murderer pays the penalty for his crime, he does so up at Bodmin, after fair trial at the Assizes. That is, if the law convicts him, before his own conscience kills him. It is better so. Like a surgical operation. And the body has decent burial, though a nameless grave. When I was a child it was otherwise. I can remember as a little lad seeing a fellow hang in chains where the four roads meet. His face and body were blackened with tar for preservation. He hung there for five weeks before they cut him down, and it was the fourth week that I saw him.

He swung between earth and sky upon his gibbet, or, as my cousin Ambrose told me, betwixt heaven and hell. Heaven he would never achieve, and the hell that he had known was lost to him. Ambrose prodded at the body with his stick. I can see it now, moving with the wind like a weather-vane on a rusty pivot, a poor scarecrow of what had been a man. The rain had rotted his breeches, if not his body, and strips of worsted drooped from his swollen limbs like pulpy paper.

It was winter, and some passing joker had placed a sprig of holly in the torn vest for celebration. Somehow, at seven years old, that seemed to me the final outrage, but I said nothing. Ambrose must have taken me there for a purpose, perhaps to test my nerve, to see if I would run away, or laugh, or cry. As my guardian, father, brother, counsellor, as in fact my whole world, he was forever testing me. We walked around the gibbet, I remember, with Ambrose prodding and poking with his stick; and then he paused and lit his pipe, and laid his hand upon my shoulder.

'There you are, Philip,' he said, 'it's what we all come to in the end. Some upon a battlefield, some in bed, others according to their destiny. There's no escape. You can't learn the lesson too young. But this is how a felon dies. A warning to you and me to lead the sober life.' We stood there side by side, watching the body swing, as though we were on a jaunt to Bodmin fair, and the corpse was old Sally to be hit for coconuts. 'See what a moment of passion can bring upon a fellow,' said Ambrose. 'Here is Tom Jenkyn, honest and dull, except when he drank too much. It's true his wife was a scold, but that was no excuse to kill her. If we killed women for their tongues all men would be murderers.'

I wished he had not named the man. Up to that moment the body had been a dead thing, without identity. It would come into my dreams, lifeless and horrible, I knew that very well from the first instant I had set my eyes upon the gibbet. Now it would have connection with reality, and with the man with watery eyes who sold lobsters on the town quay. He used to stand by the steps in the summer months, his basket beside him, and he would set his live lobsters to crawl along the quay in a fantastic race, to make the children laugh. It was not so long ago that I had seen him.

'Well,' said Ambrose, watching my face, 'what do you make of him?'

I shrugged my shoulders, and kicked the base of the gibbet with my foot. Ambrose must never know I cared, that I felt sick at heart, and terrified. He would despise me. Ambrose at twenty-seven was god of all creation, certainly god of my own narrow world, and the whole object of my life was to resemble him.

'Tom had a brighter face when I saw him last,' I answered. 'Now he isn't fresh enough to become bait for his own lobsters.'

Ambrose laughed, and pulled my ears. 'That's my boy,' he said. 'Spoken like a true philosopher.' And then he added, with a sudden flash of perception, 'If you feel squeamish, go and be sick behind the hedge there, and remember I have not seen you.'

He turned his back upon the gibbet and the four roads, and went striding away down the new avenue he was planting at the time, which cut through the woods and was to serve as a second carriage-way to the house. I was glad to see him go because I did not reach the hedge in time. I felt better afterwards, though my teeth chattered and I was very cold. Tom Jenkyn lost identity again, and became a lifeless thing, like an old sack. He was even a target for the stone I threw. Greatly daring, I watched to see the body move. But nothing happened. The stone hit the sodden clothing with a plonk, then shied away. Ashamed of my action I sped off down the new avenue in search of Ambrose.

Well, that was all of eighteen years ago, and to the best of my recollection I have not thought much of it since. Until these last few days. It is strange how in moments of great crisis the mind whips back to childhood. Somehow I keep thinking of poor Tom, and how he hung there in his chains. I never heard his story, and few people would remember it now. He killed his wife, so Ambrose said. And that was all. She was a scold, but that was no excuse for murder. Possibly, being over-fond of drink, he killed her in his cups. But how? And with what weapon? With a knife, or with his bare hands? Perhaps Tom staggered forth from the inn upon the quay, that winter's night, all lit with love and fever. And the tide was high, splashing upon the steps, and the moon was also full, shining on the water. Who knows what dreams of conquest filled his unquiet mind, what sudden burst of fantasy?

He may have groped his way home to his cottage behind the church, a pale rheumy-eyed fellow stinking of lobster, and his wife lashed out at him for bringing his damp feet inside the door, which broke his dream, and so he killed her. That well might be his story. If there is survival after death, as we are taught to believe, I shall seek out poor Tom and question him. We will dream in purgatory together. But he was a middle-aged man of some sixty years or more, and I am five-and-twenty. Our dreams would not be the same. So go back into your shadows, Tom, and leave me some measure of peace. That gibbet has long since gone, and you with it. I threw a stone at you in ignorance. Forgive me.

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.

How soft and gentle her name sounds when I whisper it. It lingers on the tongue, insidious and slow, almost like poison, which is apt indeed. It passes from the tongue to the parched lips, and from the lips back to the heart. And the heart controls the body, and the mind also. Shall I be free of it one day? In forty, in fifty years? Or will some lingering trace of matter in the brain stay pallid and diseased? Some minuscule cell in the blood stream fail to race with its fellows to the fountain heart? Perhaps, when all is said and done, I shall have no wish to be free. As yet, I cannot tell.

I still have the house to cherish, which Ambrose would have me do. I can reface the walls where the damp enters, and keep all sound and well and in repair. Continue to plant trees and shrubs, cover the bare hills where the wind comes roaring from the east. Leave some legacy of beauty when I go, if nothing else. But a lonely man is an unnatural man, and soon comes to perplexity. From perplexity to fantasy. From fantasy to madness. And so I swing back again to Tom Jenkyn, hanging in his chains. Perhaps he suffered too.

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My Cousin Rachel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Jjeys More than 1 year ago
A good addition to Rebecca by the same author.
pinder92 More than 1 year ago
I have loved Daphne du Maurier since I read Rebecca in High School, No 50 it has been a 35 year love affair! This book I didn't read until my 30's at my Mother-in-laws suggestion. One of those novels that pulls you in and takes you on a roller coster ride of emotion. At the end I said "I never saw that coming". Have re read it many times and enjoy it like an old friend.
concon More than 1 year ago
I have read most of her books. This one was a shock. I still can't figure out the ending. It does make you think. She grabs you from the first line
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of the familial psycho-drama, this classic from DuMaurier is a great example of the genre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was superb...daphne du maurier leaves so many questions unanswered...the story is a tru mystery with such an intense plot..a must read
elliepotten on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has been sitting unread on my shelves for years - ever since I saw a theatre adaptation in my early teens - and I have no idea why. Since it was plucked down off the shelves it seems to have taken forever to plough through - and I have no idea why! This is du Maurier at her best: a gloomy house filled with the bitter secrets of an enigmatic woman; the briny scent of the Cornish sea air; a tormented man seeking love... Oh, wait, does this sound familiar?Perhaps that's one of the reasons it took me so long to read it - although it's beautifully written and completely brilliant, it is basically a not-quite-as-good version of Rebecca. Where Rebecca was impossible to put down, sent chills down the reader's spine and was deeply rooted on the Cornish coast, My Cousin Rachel takes longer to work up to its denouement, invites more questioning and pondering from the steady reader, and spreads its wings to encompass a good dose of Italian influence.It is narrated, not by an innocent damsel, but by young Philip Ashley, who inherits a sizeable estate when his beloved cousin Ambrose dies during an extended stay in Italy. In his feverish letters to Philip prior to his death, he implicates his new wife - Philip's cousin Rachel - in his illness. So when Rachel arrives in England to visit the estate and her young cousin, Philip expects a black widow and is completely unprepared for how he feels as he gets to know this beautiful, exotic woman. But all may not be as it seems, and Philip is determined to find out the truth once and for all before he becomes a victim in turn.As always, du Maurier excels at making the reader question their assumptions every step of the way with her spectacular use of the unreliable narrator. Who is the predator, and who the prey? Is Philip's mind twisting events out of shape, or are his perceptions going to turn out to be correct? What really happened in Italy, and who can we trust to be telling the truth - or are Rachel and Philip both too enmeshed in the situation to think and speak honestly?There is also a wealth of very pointed social observation about national stereotypes and the role of women. Philip, living before the delights of cheap Ryanair flights to Europe, frequently seems to believe that his cousin and her advisor Rainaldi may be scheming, or insane, or extravagant, simply because they are Italian. With the exception of the kindly servants who attend to him when he visits Italy, there is no room for manoeuvre in Philip's assumptions that Italians are, by their very nature, not only more sensual and hypnotic than the English, but also far more lax in morals of every kind. The role of women is also important. One of the central themes might be said to be property: the whole novel revolves around Philip's inheritance of the estate. Throughout the book there are very few occasions when Rachel is referred to as anything but 'my cousin Rachel'; she has become an extension of the property Ambrose has transferred to his young ward. She is tied down and held hostage by the men in her life. With Ambrose's new will left unsigned in the cloud of doubt that surrounded his death, she is left with nothing but Philip's charity. Although a hugely independent character, she can never truly be independent while she must have the permission and goodwill of the men in control for everything she does. This is really an incredibly complex novel that, for me, is a cross between Rebecca - which I adored - and Madame Bovary, which I didn't like nearly as much in itself, but which was a really fascinating read in terms of its exposure of contemporary social conventions. I alternated between feeling deeply for Rachel's predicament and wondering whether Philip might be right in his fear of her. The beautiful crystal-clear writing drew me deep into the pages, and even though I remembered the ending from my theatre visit (thus destroying much of the suspense) I was s
AmyLovsBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I will admit it took me a while to finish the book. I can't say it exactly drags but it is explained into in a great detail. It has a plot that will keep you guessing through out. This is one book I assure you where you are not going to guess the ending. Jealousy or greed is one emotion that is very prominent in the book.Overall it is a good book if you have the patience to read it.
thebooky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel pales in comparison to Rebecca. If you can get beyond that, it is well written and suspenseful and stands on its own. The final chapters made the the short interludes where it was a little slow worthwhile.
AdonisGuilfoyle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It would be impossible not to compare this novel with 'Rebecca', considering the similarities of the eponymous characters and what happens to them, but I'm not sure I can say that 'My Cousin Rachel' is in any way inferior. The unnamed narrator and the descriptions of Manderley in 'Rebecca' make that book my favourite out of the two, but both novels are well crafted and suspenseful. Du Maurier has a definite talent for writing unrealiable, or prejudiced, narrators, whose paranoia both repels and influences the reader's perspective.The narrator here has a name, Philip Ashley, but he is also an orphan, raised in eccentric indulgence by his cousin Ambrose. Spoiled and immature for his age, Philip is just as insular as the second Mrs de Winter, and lives only for his guardian and their estate in Cornwall, which he will inherit on Ambrose's death. His sheltered existence is disrupted, however, when Ambrose goes abroad for the winter, to Florence, and meets and marries a distant relation, 'my cousin' Rachel. Philip's imagination is wracked with fears about this interloper, but his anxieties are cruelly realised when Ambrose dies suddenly abroad, after claiming in a scrawled and urgent letter than Rachel, 'his torment', has 'done for him'. Has Rachel killed her husband of one year for his estate, or is the cause of Ambrose's death a hereditary brain disease? Philip's suspicions of his cousin are dispelled when she visits Cornwall and charms everyone with her wit and warmth. Like Rebecca, Rachel is attractive and popular but with a dark secret, which only Philip is aware of. He struggles with his infatuation for her, playing directly into her plans in a bid to win her for himself, but is forced to face the truth - or his understanding of it.Is Rachel a self-made woman who has pulled herself up through poverty and personal unhappiness, or is she more shrewd and calculating than that? Does Philip bring trouble on himself by expecting more than she is willing to give, or does she lead him on for wealth and security? Is Rachel to be admired or hated? Du Maurier lets the reader make up their own mind, although Rachel is 'punished' for usurping a man's position and authority. If the author had written her own prequel for Rebecca, Rachel is how I imagine Du Maurier would have written her most memorable anti-heroine.
DieFledermaus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book in a crazed frenzy. The pleasant country life described was full of tension due to the uncertainty related to various events as well as the narrator¿s naïve, heedless feelings and decisions. There were similarities to du Maurier¿s Rebecca ¿ an enigmatic woman and a treasured estate are at the center of the plot. However, there was much more ambiguity surrounding the woman who sets off the events, Rachel. As in Rebecca, the author ends on a climax but less is resolved. The simple prose, focus on the natural surroundings and a refusal to admit feelings in a first person narrative create a good portrait of Philip, the narrator.du Maurier quickly sets up the events that lead to a clash between Rachel and Philip. Philip¿s guardian Ambrose, an eternal bachelor who planned to leave the estate to him, travels to Italy for his health and meets and marries Rachel, a distant relative. While everyone in Cornwall is happy for him, Philip is annoyed. He already has hateful images of Rachel in his head when Ambrose sends him incoherent letters hinting that Rachel is trying to kill him. He rushes to Florence but Ambrose is already dead and Rachel is gone. Philip plans revenge against her until she suddenly shows up at his estate.It is perhaps not a spoiler to say that he falls in love with her but her feelings, thoughts and actions remain a mystery. The tension ratchets up as new information about Rachel trickles out and Philip remains blind to her bad qualities. Even the placid scenes depicted are interesting as you wonder if Rachel is sincere or manipulating Philip and everyone else. For example, several times he is suspicious of her, but she immediately detects the change, finds out what¿s wrong and provides an explanation that satisfies him. A master manipulator, one might think. However, it¿s entirely possible that the answers she provides are the truth. More tension comes from Philip¿s rush to fall in love with her ¿ like his godfather and friends, you want to tell him to slow down and see reason. He¿s avoided the company of women all his life and plans to be a bachelor like Ambrose ¿ could be why he has no intuition or emotional intelligence or whatever it¿s called. The silences between them become deafening ¿ pretty quickly on the reader realizes that Philip knows nothing about Rachel. Her background, her first marriage, her life with Ambrose ¿ all this is ignored or put off because Rachel says it¿s painful to talk about. Some people may think that Philip¿s actions are rash and stupid and they are. However, he¿s like a hormone-crazed teenager in love who thinks that no one has ever felt like this before and the more people try to slow him down, the faster he runs off a cliff.Rachel reminded me of Rebecca in several ways. She is able to win everyone over in a quick fashion (as Maxim said that Rebecca could do) and all her work turning Philip¿s home into a comfortable and beautiful place recalls Rebecca making Manderley what it was. Rebecca¿s secrets are revealed at the end of her book, but readers must weigh the evidence on Rachel for themselves. Philip is a bit of a misogynist at the beginning of the book ¿ he thinks women are pretty much useless and his initial view of her is either as a nagging, controlling wife or a spoiled, greedy vixen. He remains one even after Rachel wins him over ¿ his view of her recalls the virgin/whore, above reason/below reason etc. dichotomy. When he¿s in love with her, nothing can make him believe anything negative about her and there¿s always an explanation for everything. When he¿s suspicious of her, she must be an evil murderer. I felt the real explanation must lie somewhere in between. An excellent, suspenseful read.
miss_scarlet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Following in the footsteps of "Rebecca", this book is an easy read, yet never dull. It captures the reader's attention easily and never loses its suspense.
Litfan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"My Cousin Rachel" is a grippingly good mystery set in an English manor which is so vividly described it almost becomes a character itself. The story is narrated by Philip Ashley, whose cousin and guardian, Ambrose, has recently died not long after his marriage to Rachel, a distant cousin whom he met while traveling in Italy. A series of suspicious letters from Ambrose regarding Rachel's actions fall into Philip's hands, and he determines that the widow had something to do with her husband's demise. However, when Rachel arrives to visit England, all thought of vengeance dissipates upon his first meeting with her. What follows is a slowly building, page-turning "did she or didn't she" mystery that is enhanced by the setting, described in such detail that it becomes very real to the reader. A classic Gothic novel that keeps the reader guessing.
estellen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Will give you sleepless nights trying to puzzle it out.
jaimjane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a brilliant book in its own right although it does not reach the heights of Rebecca. It is well written and plenty creepy. Du Maurier writes in the first person as a male so that in of itself is highly unusual. She pulled it off very well in my opinion and nailed Philip's sexual obsession with Rachel despite the restrained language for the times. Bravo!
MoiraStirling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent mystery. Gripping.
bookmagic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This reminded me a bit of Rebecca, with the same kind of setting and atmosphere. Philip and Ambrose are bachelor cousins living on Ambrose's estate. But Ambrose has some health problems and so has been spending the cold winters abroad in sunnier weather. Ambrose has been Philip's guardian since he was a boy and has never been married. So Philip is quite shocked when he receives a letter from Ambrose in Italy and the news that he has married the widow Rachel. Philip keeps waiting for Ambrose to return home with his new bride but Ambrose writes of affairs that must be settled first. Then he begins to write more disturbing letters that cast doubt on Rachel. Philip fears for Ambrose's safety and journeys to Italy to bring him home. sadly he discovers that Ambrose has died of a brain tumor. Philip returns home filled with anger at the Rachel he has never met. but when she comes to England, she is nothing like Philip expected and he begins to develop feelings for her.I love a good suspense novel where my opinion of the characters keep changing and wondering who, if anyone is the guilty party and this one did just that. If you enjoyed Rebecca, you will enjoy this as well.my rating 4.5/5
justabookreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The House on the Strand and Rebecca were truly wonderful books full of atmosphere with dark characters and deep emotional triggers that had me holding my breath till the end of the book. I wasn¿t disappointed by My Cousin Rachel but I didn¿t feel the same emotional response as I did with the others. Yet I was still happy to see the somewhat ambiguous ending. Hmmm¿ No worries. I¿m not telling. Honestly, I think Du Maurier is the only author that can do that and leave me feeling OK with it. Wonder why that is?Ambrose Ashley and his heir, Philip, are two men leading bachelor lives on their estate in Cornwall, England. When Ambrose¿s health begins to fail, he goes off to Italy for the weather and health benefits and finds a wife in Rachel, a recent widower and countess. When Ambrose sends Philip a strange letter saying his wife may be poisoning him, Philip goes to Italy to help Ambrose but doesn¿t arrive in time. Sullenly, Philip returns home to find out Ambrose¿s widow will soon be landing in England. Philip has no love, and only a slight respect, for this woman but he welcomes her reluctantly. Somehow, this mysterious woman finds a way into his life.Philip is so naïve that Rachel¿s actions seem perfectly normal to him but all the time you¿re wondering why he doesn¿t stay true to his original assessment of Rachel. You want him to go on mistrusting her and when he doesn¿t, it¿s infuriating and there¿s nothing to do but stand back and watch the wreck happen. And you know it¿s going to happen.Rachel begins wrapping Philip around her finger. He becomes more possessive and somewhat deranged. Very much like Ambrose which has you wondering who and what Rachel is. He keeps finding letters from Ambrose accusing his wife of poisoning him and warning Philip of her abuse of money. But Philip heeds none of them. He ignores all the signs Ambrose sends him from the grave.This was a very satisfying read but it didn¿t have the same intrigue, buildup, or emotional pull. The notes and Philip¿s feelings just aren¿t the same here but they do add an otherworldly element, persistent but ignored though they are. If I had read this one before Rebecca, I may have felt differently about it. I keep trying to stop myself from making comparisons but I can¿t. That happens with me when I start reading an author¿s backlist. I have Frenchman¿s Creek on my list and know my library has a copy and I¿ll try to keep an open mind while reading that one.All in all, a good read and I¿m glad I¿m working my way through Du Maurier¿s books. It¿s a fun little challenge.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Our narrator, Philip is a young man of 24 who was raised by his bachelor cousin Ambrose. While traveling in Italy Ambrose meets, falls for and marries a woman named Rachel. Philip begins to receive strange letters from his cousin suggesting that his new wife might be up to something, but dies before we know one way or another. Rachel then moves to England and while visiting Philip he falls for her. Suspicion still abounds, but now the stakes are raised as Philip nears the age where he will have access to his entire fortune. As the readers, we are swept along on Philip's adventure, wondering if Rachel is planning something devious or simply a victim of circumstances. It's difficult to maintain a heightened level of suspense for an entire book, but Daphne du Maurier is the master of this genre. She has you guessing and then second-guessing your assumptions. You question the narrator, distrust other characters' motivations, it's a delight! Her book Rebecca still remains my favorite, but I'll be reading more of her delicious books!
tibobi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I cannot believe that this book was originally published in 1951! I read Rebecca ages ago and loved it but I had never even heard of My Cousin Rachel until just a few months ago. I'm so glad I did.This is one of those stories where you sort of know how things will play out, but you continue to turn the pages because the characters are so richly drawn and the evil is almost too subtle to pick up that you feel the need to really focus on every line as some little clue might pop up. I just love these types of stories.Philip is so utterly taken with Rachel that he is incredibly frustrating at times, but the dynamic between to the two characters is so tightly wound, that you just expect him (or her) to snap at any moment. The descriptive details of the estate itself were quite well written. I felt as if I were walking the grounds myself at times.In the end, it was an incredibly satisfying read and if you haven't read it, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy soon. I also cannot say enough about the cover of the re-release. It's stunning.
Misfit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Did she or didn't she? That is the question that will keep readers on the edge of their seat until the final twist on the very last pages. Phillip Ashley was orphaned at a young age and raised in 19C Cornwall by his older cousin Ambrose. Health issues force Ambrose to spend time in warmer climates and he meets and marries a distant cousin Rachel, the widowed Countess Sangaletti. A cryptic note arrives from Ambrose hinting at being poisoned and Phillip heads to Florence to find Ambrose dead of a brain tumor (so the doctors say.....) and Rachel disappeared, with Rainaldi her close friend and "financial advisor" handling her affairs. Phillip heads home and as rightful heir takes over running the family estate, but constantly broods on his hatred of Rachel and builds an image of her that is completely different when he comes face to face with her. Instead of the murdering she-devil he's built up in his mind, Phillip doesn't quite know what to make of this tiny, elegant and very enigmatic cousin of his. Rachel weaves herself into the lives of Phillip making herself indispensable to the household until Phillip finally finds himself in love with her and forgets his prior suspicions. Phillip realizes his majority at his 25th birthday and he presents Rachel with what Ambrose would have willed to her if he had lived long enough to sign a new will. At that point everything changes between Rachel and Phillip and ......... Well I'm not going to tell you, read it for yourself. This was a fabulous read that had me gripped from the very first page and kept me guessing until the very end (actually she still keeps you guessing but you have to read it for yourself to find out why). There's a good reason Du Maurier is considered the master of romantic suspense. Highly highly recommended. 5/5 stars.
caitemaire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Orphaned as a young boy, little Phillip was taken into the care of his older cousin Ambrose and goes to live with him on Ambrose's estate. They are content, the two bachelors, for some 20 years, young Phillip learning how to manage the estate he will one day inherit. That is until, Ambrose, then in his forties and suffering from bad rheumatism in the cold, wet winters of Cornwall, decides that he will spend some time in the warmer climate of the Mediterranean and leave the management of the estate in Phillip's capable hands. He writes and stays in touch, telling of his travels, and then, out of the blue, tells of meeting a woman, a half English, half Italian widow in Italy. They share a love of gardening and, in fact, she is a very distant relative....their 'cousin' Rachel. Before Phillip really knows what to make of this new friendship, Ambrose writes from Naples that he and Rachel are married and on their honeymoon.Phillip is not thrilled with the news, jealous of sharing Ambrose's affection and wondering how it will upset his future, but in a matter of months things turn even worse when he receives several letters from his cousin, very different in tone from his earlier ones professing his love for Rachel. Now he claims that Rachel is trying to kill him, poison him and Phillips set out at once for Florence, where the married couple are living, to come to Ambrose's aid. But he is too late, arriving at Rachel's empty villa to find out that his cousin has died, supposedly of a brain tumor and the widow is gone.Phillip is convinced that Rachel has killed his cousin and pictures her as an evil, scheming witch. That is until a short time later, he receives a letter from the widow that she is in England and wishes to come to the estate to return Ambrose's possessions. She arrives and is, of course, nothing as her pictured her. Before he known what is happening, he finds himself being rather bewitched himself by his lovely cousin Rachel. What are her intention and is she an innocent widow, or a scheming murderer...yes, that is the question, and Ms. du Maurier will keep you guessing until the very end.And maybe even a bit longer. No humor here, no dashing adventure. No, this is a a real psychological thriller, darker and more sinister, certainly less clear cut. It is not so much what happens in the story that creates that sinister feeling, but the way du Maurier is able to skillfully paint the characters, especially Rachel. The story is full of questions, tossing us back and forth in our opinion of Rachel.A taut, well, written story that will no doubt grab you attention and not let it go until the very last page. The actual, very last page. If you like mysteries and thrillers, with a well written historic setting, My Cousin Rachel will be a very entertaining read for you.
cscovil on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
DAPHNE DU MAURIER: My Cousin RachelListened on audio 2009. Sensual, intelligent and chilling.Philip Ashley, a young upper-class man, has been raised in an all male environment by his cousin Ambrose and has little knowledge of women. When Ambrose travels to Italy and marries the enigmatic Rachel, later in life, Philip is jealous and sullen. Ambrose dies abroad suddenly and Philip¿s anguish and his spite towards Rachel is exacerbated by several posthumous letters hinting at sexual intrigue, financial shenanigans and poisoning... When Rachel arrives in England, Philip's instinct gradually ebbs away and his feelings deepen from fascination to obsession. It appears that history is about to repeat itself, with Philip falling her under her spell just as Ambrose before him¿¿ but, who is Rachel ultimately? Is she the sweet, charming, playful and mischievous woman driven by emotion that Philip falls passionately in love with? Or is she the cold, manipulative woman others think her to be, out for financial gain and a murderess to boot?In this heart-wrenching tale of love, longing and tragedy, the plot is intelligently structured with an intimate portrayal of the characters leading to the final twist. At the close of the novel, when Philip becomes responsible for her death, all expectations are reversed and the reader is left to question whether Rachel was good, mad, bad or indifferent and who was right, or wrong?Daphne Du Maurier lives and breathes her characters, taking the reader under their skin to produce a novel that is bleak, brooding, lush and chilling. The novel works around the notion that love is blind and explores perception, deception, individual and collective reality. Classic Fiction NovelPublished in 1951
abruno on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Orphaned at 18 months, Philip Ashley is taken in and raised by his cousin, the consummate bachelor, Ambrose. Their relationship is a close one as they share not only looks, but emotions and mannerisms as well.Ambrose travels to Italy one summer, leaving Philip to watch over the house. Letter writing is how they keep in touch and it's the information written within these letters that carries the story. Ambrose writes to tell Philip that he has met his cousin Rachel, soon followed by another letter stating that they are now married and not long after that the letters become mysterious and full of paranoia - Ambrose has been suffering an unknown illness and seems to think his new wife is trying to poison him. Philip decides to go to Ambrose in Italy and find out for himself what is really going on. But when he gets there he finds that Ambrose has been dead for two weeks and cousin Rachel had already fled the villa. Convinced that Rachel killed Ambrose and makes a promise to himself to make her pay.Back in England, Rachel shows up at Philip's manor unexpectedly. His mind is already made up to hate her, however when they meet his image of her is thrown right out the door. She's charming and dainty and sweet - she bewitches Philip from the start. She can't possibly have had anything to do with Ambrose's death. Or can she?My Cousin Rachel explores the complicated mind of a woman and the men who try to decipher it. Du Maurier's writing flows very well and the pace is fluid throughout. The gothic atmosphere combined with the mystery of who Rachel really is, kept this reader enthralled and turning the pages quickly.Thanks to Sourcebooks for giving me the opportunity to read such a wonderful novel!
Well-ReadNeck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Probably my 2nd favorite du Maurier novel.
susiesharp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love story NoObsession Story YesPhilip was raised in a house of men never having any women in the house .He has never been around anything but farm wives and that has left him ill-prepared when his cousin¿s widow comes to live with him. She is a woman of the world and wraps the poor naïve boy around her little finger without him even noticing. Although I¿m still not sure if there is a villain in the story Rachel seems sweet and at most times without malice and Philip acts like a petulant boy most of the time. The letters from Ambrose are somewhat obtuse and as a reader I was never sure what had really happened to him in Florence. The ending of the story was abrupt and left many unanswered questions.All in all I didn¿t enjoy this as much as I expected to. It was good gothic fiction but the story did meander from time to time and did not hold my interest as I thought it would, and the ending was so abrupt it was as though there were pages missing. I had high hopes for loving this book as I loved Rebecca but I am sorry to say I did not. I give it 3 stars only because anything lower is wrong for a writer of her caliber but it is barely a 3 star novel.