Length: 335 pages
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
When Philip Ashley is orphaned at a young age, he is brought up by his older, kind, and generous cousin, Ambrose. Never having been keen on marriage, Ambrose loves Philip like a son and considers him his only heir. The only family Philip has ever known is Ambrose, who is father, mother, brother, and guide to him. Philip never finds the need for anyone else. Their world is cozy, complete, and perfect. Until Ambrose travels to Florence, and falls in love.
He marries Rachel, a woman Philip has never seen and knows little of. The jealousy of having to share the love of the only family he’s ever had causes hatred for Rachel within Philip’s heart. And when he learns of Ambrose’s sudden death, his hatred, anger, and dislike turn to suspicion. But when Rachel turns up in England, Philip finds himself drawn to her mystery and beauty. The hatred he’d resolved to hold onto begins to melt away and as he gets to know her, new, strange emotions take its place. Yet, rearing its ugly head occasionally, lies one question at the back of his mind always – does he really know his cousin Rachel, or does her beauty hide the murderous intent that had claimed Ambrose’s life?
Daphne Du Maurier has a beautiful writing style that pulls you incredibly deep into the story, the lives of the people within, and the very setting in which it takes place. She weaves a tale of mystery and psychological suspense that moves along briskly and keeps you turning the pages as you’re perched on the edge of your seat.
What I really loved about My Cousin Rachel was the myriad of emotions and their depth. The dialog is powerful and intense, with the simplest of sentences delivered with an impact that you can physically feel. The beautifully woven conversations go much further in meaning than the words spoken, and you can actually sense all that meaning around you.
Association with characters is stronger in this book than in most others that I have read. You feel for and with the people – their pain, their joys, and their turmoil. But the thing is that it isn’t just a feeling like one you would have for a friend or loved on, it’s a feeling that completely surrounds you. You sort of feel like you’re standing there, next to the characters, experiencing (almost tangible) wave after wave of their emotions. And it’s touching, elating, and overwhelming, all at once.Du Maurier explores the darkest and purest of emotions, and the chaos they can reign when combined. And she does so beautifully.
But the rollercoaster of feelings and emotions that you’re on throughout the book is only a part of its charm. There’s also the suspense that is always a part of every page, every event. You’re always wondering just what will happen next. And you’re always wondering just what had really happened to Ambrose.
The only reason the book gets a 4.5 instead of 5-star rating is that I wanted it to be just slightly shorter. While reducing it by 100 pages or so would definitely take away from its charm, it could surely have been 25 pages less. Because when every page is an addition to the suspense, those few extra paragraphs can be maddening.
All in all, the book is an exceptional read, regardless of whether you like classics or not. It’s a period novel, reminiscent of the time in which it’s set; it is charming, and full of suspense. The best part about it is that it really transports you right to its setting, making for quite a reading experience.
Highly recommended to:
- fans of Classics or Modern Classics
- people who shy away from Classics (it’s a Modern Classic and does not drag)
- fans of suspense
- anyone who liked Rebecca
Let us know how you liked My Cousin Rachel, or tell us whether you’d rather wait for the movie that’s coming up soon or read the novel. Drop a comment below!