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My Cousin Rachel Paperback – Mar 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Akadine Pr (March 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585790370
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585790371
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,179,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Library Journal

Du Maurier was a very popular writer during her lifetime, but after she cashed in her chips in 1989, many of her books have gone out of print. This 1951 story is told by young protagonist Philip Ashley, who is cast together with Rachel, his uncle's widow, whom he comes to suspect might have played a role in the man's demise. Is Philip next?
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

³From the first page . . . the reader is back in the moody, brooding atmosphere of Rebecca² -- THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

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Format: Paperback
Before reading this book, you must clear your mind of preceptions inferred by critics insisting that Du Maurier is a writer of romance. First and foremost, Du Maurier writes about murderers. Like Patricia Highsmith, she masterfully allows you to see through their eyes and feel all that they feel regarding the misdeed they contemplate or have already committed. As in most of her male-narrated fictions, you will find yourself so enthralled by the circumstances observed and described that you inadvertantly cheer for and empathize with a protagonist as immoral as Highsmith's Tom Ripley is ammoral.

Philip Ashley is such a creation. Here, you must depart from Richard Burton's 1953 movie version of this character---in the film of the same name, we watch a young and beautiful Burton pout and snarl rather than see the events through his eyes. In the novel, Philip is the product of a woman-free household. He is young, sheltered and almost churlish from his lack of society. Living on a large Cornish estate with his older cousin Ambrose, Philip is groomed in tradition--he will run the Ashley estate and become a magistrate like his cousin before him; he has no need for women fussing about him. In short, he has learned Ambrose's lessons quite well. Imagine his surprise when Ambrose departs for Italy and months later writes back to inform Philip and the staff at the estate that he has taken a wife--a half-Italian distant cousin, Rachel Sangiletti. Compound this surprise with letters received from Ambrose describing a deteriorating health punctuated with headaches, violent outbursts and an apprehensive distrust of his wife's frivilousness with regard to money.
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Format: Paperback
After seeing the movie (which is, for some reason, not available on video last time I checked) and reading the book, I recently listened to an excellent audiobook version of My Cousin Rachel, narrated by Jonathan Pryce. I actually like this story even more than Du Maurier's better known Rebecca. The novel is told from the standpoint of Philip, a self-centered and inexperienced man of twenty-four. It is a challenge to have a story told by a very flawed narrator, but it makes things more interesting if it's done well, as it is here. Philip was raised by his older cousin Ambrose, who dies shortly after marrying the mysterious Rachel. Rachel comes to the estate, which is soon to be in Philip's possession. He initially blames Rachel for Ambrose's death, but almost immediately falls under her spell. He is soon helplessly in love with her. The rest of the novel is a psychological mystery --is Rachel kind and generous or ruthless and conniving, as Philip first suspected? The genius of My Cousin Rachel is in its two primary characters, Rachel and Philip. The first is the archetypal mysterious, beatiful woman who may be either good or evil. Philip is also a complex and interesting character. Just as the reader becomes exasperated at his naivete and immaturity, we are shown that he is also capable of great love and devotion. His faults, we understand, are due to his background. My Cousin Rachel has a classically English gothic atmosphere (the setting is Cornwall), a la the Bronte novels. It is at once a mystery, a romance and a fascinating psychological study.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the most fascinating and moving novels I have ever read. The story is not about pirates, smugglers or wildly romantic adventures. It is a real life love drama, in which an inexperienced young man falls in love with a woman of the world. A possible crime plays an important role, but the real story is about the feelings of Rachel and Philip for each other. For me, the most dramatic person is Rachel, whose character and way of life don't fit into the dreams of Ambrose and Philip. Not until the last page it becomes clear what kind of a woman Rachel really is, at least for me. (For some readers the questions remain.) At the end there are no winners, no bad guys, only victims. Even after I finished reading the book it kept me under its spell for days. I think this is because Rachel and Philip are so like real people, because the end is surprising in a very moving way, and because I couldn't help falling for Rachel myself. For me it belongs to the top of my favorite novels. If I could take five books with me to a deserted island where I had to spend the rest of my life, this one would be one of them.
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Format: Paperback
This book (and the 1952 film, with Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton) have haunted me since I first read the book over 20 years ago. It's a mesmerizing and artful tour de force, building high atmosphere, suspense and intrigue - and using relentless ambiguity. Du Maurier (12 or 13 years after "Rebecca" - and in my opinion the added maturity shows in more complex characters, circumstances and moral nuances) masterfully spins her tale, weaving in vivid images of a warm and fertile Italy contrasted against those of a cool green England with an economy of description. A naive young man (Philip) in his early twenties, raised by and adoring of his bachelor uncle (Ambrose), is plunged into suspicion on news that his beloved uncle has suddenly and mysteriously died abroad soon after marrying a previously unknown cousin (you guessed it - Rachel) in Florence. Ghastly fantasies mount as Philip awaits Rachel's arrival in England. But she turns out to be a worldly woman of unanticipated charms, who turns young Philip's head entirely. Is she a villainous murderess? Or merely a world-wise woman torn by affection for a dashing much younger man, bearing a marked resemblance to her husband of so few months? Delicious issues are raised, including what are the moral constraints of a woman in a world which allows her few ways to financial freedom. Does the fact that a woman understands finance necessarily mean that she doesn't love a rich husband? Is an Italian woman with a mastery of healing herbs necessarily a poisoner? Can a world-wise woman who has long since lost her innocence nonetheless be captivated by the dewy youthfulness of a young man? And, as with all du Maurier, all of the events occur in lush and beautifully described surrounding events and places. I'm a big reader, and this is one of my big favorites!
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