Tuesday, 18 August 2015

My Cousin Rachel - review

I read this for the Explore the Classics du Maurier blog tour hosted here: http://she-is-too-fond-of-books.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/explore-classics-in-august-daphne-du.html

I'm possibly posting early but it is Tuesday here, and I do live in the future.

I actually just finished the book itself a little while ago, in a race against myself to see if I would.

I had started it before the tour was planned, and it seemed like a good chance to pick it up and box on, but suddenly EVERY OTHER BOOK EVER started falling out of the sky.


Philip Ambrose is an orphan with means, of a sort. He's adopted by his older cousin Ambrose, who takes him into his household and rasies him as his own son.

Philip's early life is nothing but idyllic. He worships Ambrose, and they live a life of genteel privilege in 19th century Cornwall. Even being sent away to school is barely a blip on Philip's radar, as he always comes home to Ambrose.

Or, he does, until Ambrose himself fails to return from his annual holiday in Italy.

DUN DUN DUN ........

His letters home to Philip become patchy and increasingly more cryptic, especially after he marries a woman Philip only knows as Rachel. When Ambrose sends a letter home accusing Rachel of poisoning him, Philip sets out for Italy.

He doesn't encounter Rachel there, but returns home grieving and confused about what really happened to Ambrose.

Then, of course, Rachel - who Philip refers to as "My cousin Rachel" announces that she is coming to visit ...

I read Rebecca a few years ago, and I absolutely loved it. There was something about the atmosphere of the book, and of Ms du Maurier's deft touch with words that I found truly compelling.

The same holds true here, though I found My Cousin Rachel a bit less compelling than Rebecca.

It does take a writer of let's say uncommon skill to keep a reader's attention for 300 pages where essentially nothing happens. Everything is under the surface, and our narrator - a spoilt, self-indulged man-child - is hardly the most reliable. Every single thing we learn of Rachel is filtered through his less than worldly vision and so the questions soon come thick  and fast.

What's happening? What really happened to Ambrose? WHY ARE YOU SUCH A PILL PHILIP, GOSH.

It's hard to say that the tension builds,because tension bleeds through every single page of the book until you feel exhausted and exhilarated in equal measure.

It's definitely a haunting read, and one I think that will revisit me frequently.


  1. Fantastic review! It takes great skill to compel a reader to keep on when nothing happens and I think it is wonderful when an author accomplishes that. I'll have to read My Cousin Rachel and discover why Philip is such a pill for myself. Thank you for participating in the tour!

  2. Whitney: Thank you! It was fun taking part and pushed me to actually finish the book, so that was great :)

  3. Great Review! Ive not read this one yet...but it sounds really interesting. I kind of like tension in books. :D I'll be reading Rebecca very soon, I hope i like it as much as you did. :) Have a great week. :)

  4. Oh I love Rebecca! I hope you enjoy! :D