Friday, January 26, 2018

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

I saw the movie version of this on the plane, watched it halfway and was like “eh, I’ll just reread the book.” While I’m now uncertain if I’ve read the book before (or if Rebecca is the only Daphne du Maurier book I’ve read), I’ve got to say that this was a really good read.

My Cousin Rachel centres around the titular Rachel, and the “My” is Phillip. The book opens with Phillip reminiscing about a hanging. With him was his cousin Ambrose, who raised him and who Phillip very clearly adored. On his doctor’s orders, Ambrose heads to Italy, where he meets a distant relative Rachel, marries her, and then dies. Phillip received a suspicious letter, but is that Cousin Ambrose trying to get help, or the ramblings of a very ill man?

Things only get murkier when cousin Rachel comes to stay, and Phillip very quickly becomes obsessed with her (though he can’t identify what he’s feeling). The novel centres around this one question:

Is Rachel a scheming murderess, or is she simply the victim of extremely bad luck?

The thing with the novel is that there is absolutely no way to know. For every piece of evidence against her, there’s a counter-piece (or lack of it). Rachel does speak, but can we take her words at face value? It certainly doesn’t seem wise to believe Phillip wholeheartedly, because he is a man obsessed, but are his suspicions verified?

This is a question for each reader to decide.

Oh, and the language in this book is amazing. I’ve read about obsessed characters before, but this is the first time I’ve felt the obsession in the language. Phillip is an unreliable narrator and Du Maurier makes us feel this with every word.

If you’re into quiet but tense books with unreliable narrators and unanswered questions, you definitely have to read this.


  1. I haven't read anything by this author yet. I hadn't even heard of her until I started blogging, I'm ashamed to say. I am glad you enjoyed this one!


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