Friday, August 23, 2019


MY COUSIN RACHEL, Daphne DuMaurier

The story takes place in the 1840s in Cornwall. Philip's whole life centers around his Uncle Ambrose, his guardian, and their life in the country. When Ambrose begins to suffer health problems, he goes to Italy where he falls under the spell of Cousin Rachel. His letters home to Philip begin as odes of love but over time become dark. When he suddenly dies, Philip goes to Florence to ascertain the reasons for his death.

Initially suspicious of Cousin Rachel, Philip soon falls under her spell and alters his inheritance to make her the primary beneficiary of his uncle's estate. It is unclear for much of the book as he goes from complete suspicion, to devotion, to suspicion again whether he is falling ill from the same brain fever or disease that took his uncle or whether Rachel has a hand in both of their fates. (Much of her time is spent fooling with herbs and medicinal plants).
Is this a book about jealousy, disease or evil? I think you will come to your own conclusion by the end, but it may not be the same as mine.

This is a masterpiece of suspense. The type of book you will think about for many days following its ending.


Jeff Meyerson said...

Never read the book but I saw the Olivia de Haviland movie version.

Margot Kinberg said...

I've always liked the way du Maurier could draw you into a story and keep the suspense going so well.

George said...

Patti, I just saw a copy of MY COUSIN RACHEL at a Library Book Sale. I thought I had a copy of it so I passed it up. You can guess the rest: I DIDN'T have a copy of MY COUSIN RACHEL and now I'm kicking myself for passing up a nice copy. If I run across it again, I'l certainly buy it and read it!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I always think I have a copy at home and probably I once did but gave it to the library. I read this on my kindle. I haven't seen the movie in years.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Apparently, it was Richard Burton's first major role.

I think my mother had a Readers Digest Condensed Books version, so may have read that.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Just checked and it was in Volume 10, Summer 1952, of the Readers Digest Condensed Books, so maybe that's where I remember it from. Other books in that volume:

Pearl S> Buck, The Hidden Flower
Paul Brickhall, The Dam Busters
Herman Wouk, The City Boy

The volume I most remember had The Day Lincoln Was Shot by Jim Bishop and The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglass Wallop, which was, of course, turned into DAMN YANKEES.

Todd Mason said...

Reminding me of Rachel Weisz...struggling with distraction!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I doubt my grandparents knew there was any other way to read novels outside those condensed versions.

Mathew Paust said...

I remember we had the Condensed Books for a while when I was a kid. My parents probly subscribed. I may have read a "book" or two, but have no recollection which ones they might have been. I believe my dad had a couple of du Maurier paperbacks in his little crime/mystery book case, but I have yet to read anything by her. Cousin Rachel might be a good place to start. From your synopsis, Patti, and Jeff's comment, I can see Burton perfectly in the role of Phillip.

TracyK said...

I will definitely look for this book, which I doubt that I ever read.

That is funny about the Reader's Digest editions. I remember reading some books in those editions that my grandparents had when I was a child. I specifically remember The Night of the Hunter, much too scary for me at the time.