Book Reviews

So many books (you know the rest)

My Cousin Rachel
by Daphne Du Maurier
Published in 1951 (I finished it on March 23, 2019)

Daphne Du Maurier most excels at painting two vastly different characters—in regards to emotion and their place in life. With Philip, she depicts a young man, still unclear of how the world spins, but a bit too confident that he knows and a reluctance to accept the idea that there are other wiser men and women who know more. There’s also a hint of mental illness in the family, so Phillip can be untrustworthy as a narrator, and we are not too sure how reliable his information is, or about the cause of his brother’s demise.

And with Rachel, we have a twice widowed woman who acts on impulse and pays the price often.

It works wonderfully as a mystery, in one cannot quite ascertain just what her motives are. With Philip, everything is clear as day as his feelings and desires are an open book.

And of course, poor Louise.

A notable event is when Philip feels Rachel has agreed to something that she claims never happened. I thought, “Well, she’s lying. She did agree to it.” But I flipped back to that point, and voila, she in fact did not. Like Phillip, we often hear and understand what we want to be true, completely missing reality. In fact, I read the passage several times as I was entirely sure she had said what we thought to be true.

It’s also some great writing to achieve that.

While the novel is very interesting, it’s not perfect. Some things are a little too contrived and relfect perhaps the writing trend of that period.

A note about period: it’s actually hard to tell just when this novel takes place. It seems to be 18th or 19th century, but there are no actual dates, which makes it a bit fun to guess. We do know the location though.