Monday, May 18, 2015

Daphne du Maurier - My Cousin Rachel

Philip Ashley lives with his cousin in a large house with farms in Cornwall.  Philip was orphaned at an early age and was taken under the wing of his cousin, Ambrose.  They live together as two happy bachelors.  Good times rarely last, as we know.  Ill health forces Ambrose to spend his winters in Italy.  On one of his visits, he meets his cousin Rachel there.

Philip soon learns through letters sent by Ambrose that they have married.  Soon, the letters cease to happy and speak of illness and treachery. Philip is alarmed and rushes to Florence.  Alas, he is too late.  His cousin has died and he suspects Rachel poisoned him.  He returns home to find that Rachel has asked to visit him to return Ambrose's things. He is quite prepared to have a showdown with her.

He does not reckon with meeting a beautiful, sad widow.  Philip begins to doubt his suspicions about Rachel. She seems like a kind, charming person who just wants to do good deeds for people.  But there are some  reminders of the past that make him doubtful once more.

Daphne Du Maurier gripping story has our interest right at the start and keeps us turning pages.  The story has been told from the point of view of Philip Ashley who is a callow youth smitten by his cousin's widow. The reader is also left wondering about the innocence of the enigmatic Rachel, and the fate she meets.

This has been made into a film starring Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland.  Usually, Hollywood likes to distort the original story in its film adaptations.  I do not think this story can be distorted much.  I am in the process of the watching the film and will write about it on my film blog soon.

2 comments: said...

I must confess I've not read much of Daphne du Maurier's work - in fact, the only book of hers I remember reading is the unforgettable Rebecca. I must certainly add this to my list.

Ava Suri said...

Oh you must, Madhu. I am reading A King's General which is a historical romance. I love The House on the Strand also. She is quite dependable. Her books do not turn out bad at all.

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