Publisher and Publication Date: Sourcebooks Landmark. April 18, 2017. Originally published 1951.
I’ve previously read and reviewed Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
Link @ Amazon for My Cousin Rachel.
Amazon Prime has the film available. Rachel Weisz portrays Rachel from the book.
At the age of 18 months, Philip Ashley is orphaned. Philip became the heir of his older cousin, Ambrose Ashley. His life is spent with Ambrose on the Cornwall estate. When Philip is a young man his older cousin traveled to Italy for health reasons. Letters are exchanged between the men. Philip is shocked when Ambrose tells him he married a young woman named Rachel. Rachel had been married once before and her husband died. Philip is angry at the new situation and is mistrustful of Rachel. Ambrose became ill and Philip traveled to Italy. By the time he arrives, Ambrose has died. Philip returns to England with a heavy heart. And in a dramatic change, Rachel became a guest at the estate. Philip is mistrustful of Rachel; however, he became enchanted by her charm and beauty.
The story builds with the mystery of whether Rachel is a good person or an evil person.
I did not know the author, Daphne du Maurier had written, The Birds until reading this book. Last summer I watched the film, The Birds for the first time. In both the film, The Birds and the book, My Cousin Rachel the viewer is taken on an experience of good versus evil. Is Rachel good or evil? Are the birds good or evil? Rachel comes across as feminine, sweet, charming and gracious. She seems innocent. The birds are something we see everyday. They are apart of the outdoor world. They are fun to watch. They are not considered something to fear. They seem innocent.
Philip is a young man who is naive. He has lived a sheltered life at the estate with his cousin. He has had limited contact with females. He has never been in a romantic relationship and he has never been in love. Add the naive element of his personality to a stubborn nature, and a bad decision is bound to happen. I felt like I was watching a train wreck slowly unfolding.
The plot builds slowly with mystery. The mystery is Rachel. Who is this young woman? Is she good or evil? What does she want? As an older woman, Rachel’s character is not shocking to me. I’ve known women like her before. But Philip is a young man. I felt empathy for him. On the other hand, he needed to wake up out of his stupor. Because of this last thought, My Cousin Rachel is a book that I felt the need to talk back to the characters. That seems silly but this is how I felt.