Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Details: First published 1951; cover shown is the 1962 Penguin Books (UK) paperback edition. Cover art by Virgil Burnett. 302p.

Bought for $1.00 at an opportunity shop.

My Cousin Rachel is a superb study of that cancer of the human mind - suspicion... somewhere in Cornwall, at some time in the last century, little unspectacular events gradually and grimly mount to the proportions of a modern Othello. At every page up to the last the reader is asking: "What will happen?" and long after the book is closed the debate in the mind continues: "Was Rachel a fiend? Was Philip mad?"

Verdict: Deceptively creepy. It starts off so simply, so straightforwardly, with a couple of beautifully written opening chapters. And then Rachel comes onto the scene, and everything that was once beautiful is no more. du Maurier is an expert at creating uncertainty and unease in a reader's mind, and I still cannot fully make my mind up about Philip's possible insanity and Rachel's possible fiendish, emotionally destructive behaviour. I loved the moody, atmospheric setting in Cornwall, and the predictable yet inevitable ending.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read to the bottom of page one, and came up with two books I really want to read - The Vanishing, followed by My Cousin Rachel. Second-hand bookshops, here I come ... with my $1.95! (That's all I have in my purse at the mo. Thank goodness it's pay week!) Thanks for bringing these titles to my attention. Ali :)