My Cousin Rachel by Daphne duMaurier

Standalone Book - No Series

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

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?

“The point is, life has to be endured, and lived. But how to live it is the problem.”

I have a few irritants that rubbed me the wrong way, but not many can weave a gothic spell like du Maurier did. She was an incredibly talented writer; her way with words absorbs me. This plot wasn’t flawless, unfortunately, but it’s still worth reading for her writing style and characterization alone. 


She dared to write unusual traits in characters, such as the overdone blind-faith in Rebecca and the unusually feisty heroine in Jamaica Inn. Here she hints at the distrustful, manipulative flaws of a woman, choosing a man’s point of view to tell the tale.

Colorful and unusual, as most of her stuff is, this is led through the POV of a young and lonely male Philip. While many readers and reviewers didn't care for the pining and easily led lead, personally I enjoyed his character until he started being outright stupid. His yearning becomes nearly nauseating and the thing with the will? *shudders* While some complain about him, I despised Rachel more. I didn't trust her, but part of the story being so unreliable and uncertain is part of its charm.

Ambrose was my favorite, long live his memory.

As for the mystery, I lean toward guilty but the author leaves it open-ended. I do find the last page slightly confusing, however. What happened next?

It’s not an easy read necessarily, but it’s a good one. The characters aren’t really likeable, but they’re interesting. Not much of a mystery, this one sidelines a drama with some questions. It’s not quickly paced and the ending isn’t fully satisfying, but it’s not something I’ll forget.

Book Quotes

“We were dreamers, both of us, unpractical, reserved, full of great theories never put to test, and like all dreamers, asleep to the waking world. Disliking our fellow men, we craved affection; but shyness kept impulse dormant until the heart was touched. When that happened the heavens opened, and we felt, the pair of us, that we have the whole wealth of the universe to give. We would have both survived, had we been other men.”

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