M Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction are some of my Literary Interests

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"My Cousin Rachel" by Daphne du Maurier

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (1951, 335 pages)

I wish to thank Jov  of Bibliojunkie for her great kindness in sending me this book.   

My Cousin Rachel is the second work of Daphne du Maurier (1907 to 1981-UK) that I have read.   My first of her works  was Rebecca, her consensus best work.    Like Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel centers on a  sinister seeming woman who uses her wiles to deceive a wealthy but naive man into endowing her with wealth.   Both of the women have nefarious men in their pasts who intrude into the future.    

I do not wish to give away much at all of the plot of My Cousin Rachel.   I loved the way du Maurier created the almost misogynistic atmosphere in the opening chapters of the book.   Much of the book is beautifully written and there are some simply stunning sentences and turns of phrases.     The lead male character, Philip was brought up by his  wealthy bachelor uncle after his parents die.   Uncle Ambrose, in his forties as the story begins, seems never to have had any but limited social contact with women.    His nephew, in his early twenties also has had no contact with women other than social relations of a very proper sort.    He does say at one point that he is not moved by the idea of any other sort of relationships with women.    There is a great affection and bond between Ambrose and his ward and nephew Philip.    The story is set on  a stately mansion, just like Rebecca is,  on the coast  in England.      

At every turn as the plot advanced I knew something terrible was going to eventually happen.    I was sucked into the plot lines so well I was shocked by the ending.    At  the end I could see how everything was tied together though I was left with some unanswered question, not a bad thing in itself.

I did at times have trouble understanding why Rachel was so attractive to both Ambrose and Philip and I think this is not really well conveyed in the book.    Maybe we are just meant to accept that they are and use our imagination to figure out why.    I admit as I was reading  I became very impatient with what seemed like the incredible naivety of the lead male character, twenty four year old Philip.

I enjoyed My Cousin Rachel a lot.     If  you are new to du Maurier as I am, then read Rebecca first.   If you really like that a lot then I would say My Cousin Rachel would also be something you would enjoy.   

It seems that du Maurier's early works (pre-1952 or so) are considered her best work.   I would like to read one more of her novels soon and would appreciate any suggestions as to my next read.    I read her The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte in early 2008.     

Mel u

13 comments:

Suko said...

Your intriguing review confirms that I really should read something by this author, probably Rebecca as you suggest.

Jessica said...

I really liked Rebecca and Jamaica Inn although house on the Strand and Frenchmans Creek are supposed to be really good.

Jessica said...

I really liked Rebecca and Jamaica Inn although house on the Strand and Frenchmans Creek are supposed to be really good.

mywordlyobsessions said...

This sounds like a fantastic book. I've been looking for a recommendation to follow up 'Rebecca', and I think I've found one. Du Maurier does mysterious women very well. Excellent review Mel! Thanks for sharing.

mywordlyobsessions said...

This sounds like a fantastic book. I've been looking for a recommendation to follow up 'Rebecca', and I think I've found one. Du Maurier does mysterious women very well. Excellent review Mel! Thanks for sharing.

Marie said...

I read My Cousin Rachel first (before Rebecca), in my teens, and LOVED it! It made me a diehard du Maurier fan. One of my other favorites is The Scapegoat, so I'd recommend that. I actually wasn't impressed with Frenchman's Creek, that one seemed predictable to me. Have fun choosing!

JoAnn said...

Rebecca was my intro to Du Maurier and I'm ready to read more. Looks like it will be My Cousin Rachel. Thanks for the review!

ds said...

Rebecca was my intro to duMaurier last year. I've heard good things about Jamaica Inn and Frenchman's Creek as well. You do a great job with this one. Have fun exploring another new author, Mel!

Bookworm1858 said...

I just watched this movie (with Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland) and it has really inspired me to read more du Maurier. I've only read Rebecca at this point but I think I would enjoy her other work.

Helen said...

I loved this book, though I agree that Philip was an annoying character. I'm glad you enjoyed it too. My recommendation for your next du Maurier book would be The Scapegoat or Jamaica Inn.

Avid Reader said...

I just read Rachel this year. I was impressed by how long she kept me going back and forth on how I felt about Rachel. Not as good as Rebecca, but still really suspenseful.

JoV said...

I am really happy to hear that you enjoyed the book and hope you get to read her other works.

I'm not sure which Du Maurier book I'll read next, perhaps Jamaica Inn.

Chrisbookarama said...

Philip needed a good smack to knock some sense into him. You might like Jamaica Inn as your next du Maurier.