Updated: Jan 6, 2019
So after reading Rebecca a while back, I knew this book was one of Daphne Du Maurier's best sellers. In fact, it was the last of her great best sellers back when it was published in 1951. I would say it's definitely another page turner as Rebecca was, and you totally get the full Daphne Du Maurier writing spirit in this book. I was in the mood for a bit of English Lit and it definitely hit the spot.
My Cousin Rachel is a mystery- romance novel set mostly in Cornwall, similar vibe to Rebecca. You can tell immediately Du Maurier has a soft spot for this area as a writer, she is very descriptive in her novels when it comes to scenery and you can really imagine yourself as if your there. It's pretty cool, and totally transports you to this fantasy dreamy world. The book follows 2 men who live in a large estate from which the women have been banished. The house is staffed by mostly men and is basically a huge man cave if you will. The older man is called Ambrose Ashley, and the younger man who is 23, is called Philip Ashley. Ambrose is a guardian to Philip, who was an orphan and took him in when he was 3 years old, and Philip basically idolises Ambrose and wants to be just like him (when he grows up). Ambrose has a thirst for gardening and decides to travel the world in search for exotic plants to bring back to his estate. During his travels, he ends up in Florence, Italy where Ambrose ends up staying longer and meets a woman called...you guessed it, Rachel, who is a 'cousin' of theirs. They get married, which comes to a huge surprise to Philip back in Cornwall because basically they've always been about that 'bachelor living and we don't need a woman in our lives kinda' men. Ambrose begins to communicate to Philip via letters telling him of his news. Eventually, time passes, Ambrose has yet to pay a visit to Philip back in Cornwall, which was super odd! The letters began to get sort of eerie which prompted Philip to get to Florence ASAP to check out what exactly was going on in Florence. Philip finds out that Ambrose suddenly died, his one and only person in life, which causes him to be suspicious of whatever has been going on out there in Florence with his 'Cousin Rachel'. I will leave the plot at that because we all hate spoilers, amirite?!
I love that we kind of don't know the exact era that this book was written in, but it was definitely of a certain century! It gives the book a nice dream-like vibe and almost nostalgic feel to it as it is a historical novel (Funny enough, I'm never too crazy about historic novels but Du Maurier's books are ace). It's a timeless book, that much is true. I loved the fact that it totally draws you into this world and you lose yourself in these characters and their everyday lives. Daphne Du Maurier is a talented writer and a sensitive one at that too. It's also quite a feminist book seeing that it was written way back when! It shows you how manipulating a woman can be and how they can twist men around their little finger. The bad guy here is essentially a woman which is really empowering to read. I've noticed that once again, Du Maurier doesn't actually give much away to the female character in terms of physical appearance, she's sort of more an idea that can stand for many women and not just one specific character. Which is pretty cool. Very feminist book for its time! It also deals with the male bravado and how they have authority, power, and money, and all those things that women don't generally possess, especially back in the day. It kinda makes you think, who's the bad guy here? It's tense, mysterious, and draws you in.
Good read indeed. I'd have to say that I did prefer Rebecca a little more, mostly because it was more action packed and juicy. Where My Cousin Rachel was more of a slow burner, like it took its sweet time getting to that sweet spot, but once it did it was pretty good! She really builds up that suspense throughout the book and I completely respect her for that. She's an incredible writer. This is a great book to read over a long period of time, so don't expect to read it all in like a day or something...there's way too much dialogue and descriptiveness happening for it to be a 'quick read'. I enjoyed reading it though.
Also how GORGEOUS is this cover!!!!! So beaut! Couldn't get over it when my bud JLB gave it to me :) wonder if I should read Jamaica Inn at some point. Has anyone read it? Is it worth a read?