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My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

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Misfit
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My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

Post by Misfit » Sun October 26th, 2008, 4:23 pm

Did she or didn’t she? That is the question that will keep readers on the edge of their seat until the final twists on the very last pages. Phillip Ashley was orphaned at a young age and raised in 19C Cornwall by his older cousin Ambrose. Health issues force Ambrose to spend time in warmer climates and he meets and marries a distant cousin Rachel, the widowed Countess Sangaletti. A cryptic note arrives from Ambrose hinting at being poisoned and Phillip heads to Florence to find Ambrose dead of a brain tumor (so the doctors say.....) and Rachel disappeared, with Rainaldi her close friend and “financial advisor” handling her affairs.

Phillip heads home and as rightful heir takes over running the family estate, but constantly broods on his hatred of Rachel and builds an image of her that is completely different when he comes face to face with her. Instead of the murdering she-devil he's built up in his mind, Phillip doesn't quite know what to make of this tiny, elegant and very enigmatic cousin of his. Rachel weaves herself into the lives of Phillip making herself indispensable to the household until Phillip finally finds himself in love with her and forgets his prior suspicions. Phillip realizes his majority at his 25th birthday and he presents Rachel with what Ambrose would have willed to her if he had lived long enough to sign a new will. At that point everything changes between Rachel and Phillip and ………

Well I’m not going to tell you, read it for yourself. This was a fabulous read that had me gripped from the very first page and kept me guessing until the very end (actually she still keeps you guessing but you have to read it for yourself to find out why). There’s a good reason Du Maurier is considered the master of romantic suspense. Highly highly recommended. 5/5 stars

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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Mon October 27th, 2008, 9:44 am

Glad you enjoyed this book so much, Misfit. I enjoyed reading your review - it's a book you keep thinking about afterwards, isn't it? I'm still trying to work it out. Ambiguous endings are DduM's tradmark, I think! I love her style of writing.
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Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Mon October 27th, 2008, 2:31 pm

Ambiguous is an understatement on this one. I'd love to see a film version of it. Apparently in the 50's there was one with Olivia de Haviland and a very very young Richard Burton, but it's virtually impossible to get a copy.

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Vanessa
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Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Mon October 27th, 2008, 2:53 pm

There was a TV drama seriesof it with Geraldine Chaplin as Rachel. I'm not sure I see GC as Rachel, though - I have Penelope Cruz more in my mind.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Mon October 27th, 2008, 3:21 pm

Thanks for the info. Wish A&E would do this one, they've done almost everything else. Here's the 1952 movie poster from Wik. I see the BC mini version is available for sale on Amazon UK, but not in the US.
Last edited by Misfit on Mon October 27th, 2008, 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Sun February 1st, 2009, 2:35 pm

Actually, I think I can picture a young Geraldine Chaplin as Rachel.

I'm reading this now... just 50 pages left, so hope to finish today. I think I find Philip more disturbing than Rachel. One could wonder all day about the subtext in this novel!

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Libby
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Post by Libby » Sun February 1st, 2009, 10:38 pm

I read this as part of a reading group last year so i went to see what I'd said in my review after I'd finished it.

I think what I like most about this book is the way that the narrative takes a circular route. It begins with the body of the hanged man and Philip Ashley telling the reader that they don't hang men there any more. It does seem like a confession - but to me it was the confession of a guilty man; a man who is relieved they don't hang people any more because he fears he might be the one to be hanging there.

Philip Ashley knows he is responsible for the death of Rachel and the whole story is built up around how that happened. At first he hates her and so it seems reasonable he may have murdered her in revenge for Ambrose's death, but then we watch as he falls passionately in love with her. His passion for her is obvious to the reader, but is it obvious to Rachel? Because the whole story is written from Philip's point of view we only get his side of the story, his version, his perceptions - and that is what makes it so interesting. The reader is left to guess, right to the end and beyond, what is going on in Rachel's mind. We get no definite answers. We are left to make up our own minds. Yes, Philip is guilty of her murder if not warning her about the bridge counts as murder. He certainly feels guilty, even if he doesn't necessarily regret his inaction. But was Rachel about to take everything he had ever held important and go back to Italy? Was she a scheming greedy woman who took advantage of two naive and vulnerable men who didn't understand women? I don't know and I think it's the not knowing that makes the story successful because the questions remain with you long after it's finished.
By Loyalty Bound - the story of the mistress of Richard III.

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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Mon February 2nd, 2009, 11:39 am

Yes it's a great book and I love the opening line (I think the same line closes the book too if I remember rightly). It is ambiguous and wonderfully atmospheric. I also think it's due for a new "filmed" version instead of endless versions of "Rebecca" which has been somewhat over-filmed. I think it would also work if it was updated to the present day.

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