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My Cousin Rachel Paperback – Mar 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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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 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,643,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.


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
I heard Daphne Du Maurier equated with gothic mystery. "My Cousin Rachel" is my introduction. It comes across as general fiction, a slow pace. A simmering plot is a sound technique but it wasn't offset by a burst of events, except too late to propel the novel as a thriller. There was no reward of full disclosure, which is called for in a story that doesn't abound with action. The introduction sets up something more macabre than most of the story contains.

An Englishman is groomed to take over his Great-Uncle's estate, after whom he was named. Philip loves Truro, Cornwall and is content overseeing Ashley caretaking and crops. His Great-Uncle's son, Ambrose, raised him since his parents' early passing. Daphne instils us with this relationship exceedingly well. We feel how dearly they are son and Dad. With Ambrose's doctor advising dry weather abroad, Philip is already managing their enterprises. Readers understand this is home and Philip's rightful place, well before Ambrose writes about illness and concern over a new marriage. The author shows psychology so well, we don't consider Philip's and his friend Louise's suspicions farfetched. We are on board their questions about Rachel Ashley.

A tone of intrigue enters when Philip takes Ambrose seriously and sails to Florence, as fast as mid-1800s transportation can convey him. We embark on a proper mystery investigation and are excited to know what Philip will discover, whom he will see. Other than the anticipation of acquainting Rachel at his home shortly after, I hoped for a great deal more suspense. The novel becomes a portrait of obsessive anxiety, amidst months of pleasant discourse. There was no fear or hurry, until the final few chapters. Had this title not been wound up as a hair-raising mystery, I would rate its literary prowess highly.
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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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