My Cousin Rachel

I first heard about this book when I was reading an article written by a literary agent, she described it
as her favourite ever book. I then forgot all about it until later when my Grandma gave me ‘Rebecca’, I loved it and then I went looking for more books by Daphne De Maurier. ‘Jamaica Inn’ was dark, gloomy, and murderous so I once again shelved ‘My Cousin Rachel’ for another time. Then I heard it was coming out in the cinemas and I decided once and for all to give it a go.

‘Was it worth it?’ you might be asking after those many years of indecision – well yes in the end it was. The writing style was very similar to ‘Rebecca’, the mystery was there, the uncertainty. The gentle romance was more implicit than explicit which is so different from a lot of the things you read and I really appreciated it. The titular Rachel was an imposing figure, an enigma who had poor Philip twisted round her little finger in no time. As it was written in first person it was like being caught up in Rachel’s spell yourself, you knew logically that what was happening wasn’t right or at least wasn’t the best thing to do but you couldn’t help but want to go along with it – which shows the power of her writing.

So I thought I had it all figured out… I thought I knew what the situation was, I thought I had it sorted in my mind, basically I thought I knew who Rachel was. Then De Maurier did a twist and suddenly I wasn’t certain about anything except for Rachel’s fate. I don’t think I’ve read the last few pages of any book in recent times quite as quickly. Compared to the opening which was perhaps a little slow (in order to set the scene properly) the ending was quick and eventful.

Don’t read it if you don’t like ambiguity. If you like books to be clear cut, if you like characters to be definitively good or evil then this is absolutely not the book for you. I’m usually one of those people but there was a satisfaction to the ending which you don’t often find with ambiguous endings. I know I’m not being particularly clear here but even though the book is decades old I still don’t want to share spoilers! Basically the ending (and I won’t tell you what it is) made me question a lot of things that I had learned, and this reminded me that things are not always black and white, things are often more in the grey area.

This book is similar to Rebecca and there is ambiguity in that book as well but the ending in Rebecca seems to clear a lot of the mysteries up for readers. We will never know what Phillip does next, how he acts, if he marries Louise or continues building and growing Ambrose/Rachel’s garden. That is all left to the imagination, we are left feeling as confused as Phillip, and I think that’s good. What do you think? Do you like the way the book was ended? Did you like Phillip as a character?

I’d absolutely love to know what you think! I’m hoping to get a chance to watch the film at some point – have you seen it, what did you think? The next book I will be reviewing is ‘Falling’ by Jane Green so I’m excited to get started on that!

Have a wonderful week,
Isabelle

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