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My Cousin Rachel


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megustaleer 5th May 2006 06:31 PM




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?

I really enjoyed this book. There are many similarities with the more famous 'Rebecca'.

There is a mystery about Ambrose Ashley's death, and his widow is suspected of, among other things, poisoning him. As his nephew Philip struggles with love and suspicion, the reader shares his contradictory views of his cousin Rachel. As in 'Rebecca' the central question is not whodunnit, but the triple one of, did Rachel murderAmbrose, was there anything suspicious about the death of her first husband, and is she trying to poison Philip?

A most enjoyable period romance/mystery.



Sylvia 8th May 2006 08:40 PM


I first read this book when I was in my teens (my mother had a copy). I hated it then, I think because I found the ending very dissatisfying. I was probably hoping for a nice, happy, romantic ending.


I read it again last summer and found it absolutely haunting. I'm still pondering whether Rachel was "guilty" or not.



elfstar 9th May 2006 06:25 PM

I was reminded of this book when posting in the Couples in literature thread, did I remind you too, Meg?

I have never resolved the answer in my own mind, was she innocent or not?

I think in many ways this is a darker book than Rebecca and leaves even more to the imagination. Strange how in both of them one of the characters is dead but has left an abiding impression...Ambrose and Rebecca.



megustaleer 17th May 2006 01:31 PM

:Originally Posted by elfstar

I was reminded of this book when posting in the Couples in literature thread, did I remind you too, Meg?


I 'found' it on a neglected bookshelf just a few days after seeing it mentioned on the 'Couples' thread, so thanks for the reminder!


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  • 3 months later...

This is my first Daphne Du Maurier book. I found the phe pace measured rather than slow, despite the fact that it covers some period of time. Having Phillip telling the story as an unreliable narrator gives the novel bite. All the time I was trying to guess between the lines as to what exactly had happend to Ambrose and what Rachel's real intentions were.


I found some of the descriptions rich almost to the point of swamping the narrative, but not quite. Reading it I could feel what it was like, see what it was like and understand the effect this had on the characters.


Not all the characters were fully rounded for me. The the important onces, that of Philip, Rachael and Amrbose were. Since they carried the whole book along then perhaps that was all that was important.


As far as the ending was concerned:

Do you really have to decide whether Ambrose was poisoned? Do we really have to decide whether Rachel was being kind to Phillip or only interested in herself? Was Rainaldi as bad as Phillip wanted to paint him? Was Phillip remorseful about not telling Rachel about the bridge? And do any of these things matter?

I think on reflection it was the best of endings in the given circumstances.

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  • 10 years later...

I read a fair few books by this author while in my teens and early twenties, so some decades ago, but I cannot for the life of me remember whether I actually read this one or not or just remembered the title.  I was reminded of the book recently while at the cinema when the new film based upon the novel was trailered.  Upon the end of the film we were viewing I of course informed RG that I would be wanting to see the film when it started showing.  I also informed him that I would want to read the book first so upon arriving home he promptly ordered it for me.  Upon receiving my copy I read the book in about three or four days.  Whenever I had the chance my nose was in the book.  I really had forgotten just how good her books are.


The book is well written in an easy to read style.  It is as much about the characters involved as it is about the story.  The main characters for me were very reaI as were the descriptions of the atmospheres in both Florence and Cornwall.  While reading the descriptions of the two places I felt that I just wanted to be there. I for one loved the fact that the ending leaves the reader thinking and so fails to wind the story up completely.  The way that the story unfolded I cannot think of a better way to finish the book than to leave the reader hanging.  Any other ending may well have seemed just a bit too pat.  I still cannot remember whether I have read the book before or not but I am glad that I read it now.


Having read the book RG and I went to see the film on Tuesday.  It did not disappoint.  My only gripe would be that after following the story fairly closely throughout a couple of details that did not appear in the book were added to the ending thus affecting the viewers thinking a little.  I suspect that the film makers did not want to leave the viewer hanging in quite the same way as the author did.  I felt this to be a bit of a shame.  However although I did find this annoying overall it was a pretty good dramatisation of the book and I did really enjoy the film.  


Having read this book I wonder if it is time that I took this author up again as there are still a number of her books which I have not read.  I am tempted.

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  • 7 months later...

I have now finished My Cousin Rachel and loved it.  I did guess the ending but it's an old book and the ending was suitable satisfying anyway.  I guessed that it was set in Cornwall and I kept expecting a Poldark to be mentioned.  I thought that it was an atmospheric book and loved the fact that the plot twisted and turned - I did not guess that Rachel would return the jewels to Philip's lawyer and am not sure of her motives, for example - and loved the fact that the reader gets to decide for themselves if Rachel is guilty, if Rainaldi is a bad influence, whether Philip would come to his senses or not.


It's a classic book as it should be and will be worth reading again.  I still have a few other Du Maurier books to look forward to.

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  • 3 years later...
On 28/09/2017 at 19:09, cherrypie said:

t a couple of details that did not appear in the book were added to the ending thus affecting the viewers thinking a little.  I suspect that the film makers did not want to leave the viewer hanging in quite the same way as the author did. .

Much as Hitchcock did for Rebecca.

Now, having both read the book and seen the film several times, I can never remember which ending belongs to the book and which to the film.

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I thought they were both fairly the same,  different settings but the end result was the same, and I still felt the ambiguity was there in the film.  Been a while since I saw it - it was one I watched in the first lockdown!  the Rachel Weisz version.

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