of daphne dumaurier: my cousin rachel

Daphne DuMaurier. My Cousin Rachel (1951).

When I discovered Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, I read it three times within a few months. Recently, wandering backwards through the alphabet, I spied this title on the library shelves. A new-to-me title and an irresistible author.

The aspects of DuMaurier’s craft that I have come to appreciate most are her profound ability to create an atmosphere, to add depth to a protagonist, and to construct a gripping sense of suspense. She did not disappoint. This is the only novel of hers I have found so far that is reminiscent of Rebecca in its ability to hold up a human being in all its complexity and reveal the role that perception plays in our judgements of others.

My Cousin Rachel is the story of Philip Astley, a young man who inherits the estate of his cousin and guardian, Ambrose Astley. Ambrose marries a woman younger than himself on a visit to Italy and dies before he returns home to his English countryside estate. Philip does not trust his widow, even suspecting her of a role in his cousin’s death. Then she comes to visit. We watch the relationship that develops between the two and we wonder if things are always what they seem. The strands of the story are involved enough that we cannot be entirely sure what is being woven, even if we think we know. But we must be there when it’s finished.

For those who loved Rebecca.
This would be a fantastic book club read–there’s a lot of wealth to discuss and explore.

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6 Responses to of daphne dumaurier: my cousin rachel

  1. Elena says:

    Oh, “Rebecca” gave me the chills each time I listened to the audiobook and watched the movie (I loved Joan Fontaine). I’ve been wanting to start a book club and I think that I just might use “My Cousin Rachel”, however, I am very much enjoying “Red House Mystery”, so I’ll have to spread them out on the reading schedule. I think one of my favorite parts is the wonderfully British dialogue and humor. 🙂
    Thank you for posting about these recommendations–I’ve really enjoyed them!

    Do you have any suggestions for biographies? I’ve been so blessed by reading the history of Corrie Ten Boom and George Muller, and lately I’ve been wanting to expand my horizon in that area. Thank you!

    • Hello again, Elena, thanks for this! I’m so glad you’re enjoying some of the books, I surely did! Wish I could join a book club like yours–sounds awesome. I have read a few biographies that were really wonderful. My top choices would be “My Heart in His Hands”–the story of Anne Judson by Sharon James, and “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret” by his son and daughter-in-law. I also love to read about Amy Carmichael, so I enjoyed Elizabeth Elliot’s version of her biography, “A Chance to Die” (but I don’t think the writing in this one is particularly remarkable, it’s just—what a story! I am about to read a biography of Margaret Patton–I’ll review it here soon and let you know what I think! Do you have any recommendations for me?

      • Elena says:

        Thanks for these suggestions!
        Well, what comes to mind right now is the account of Bruce Hunt, worker to Korea during the 1940’s, called “For A Testimony” and I really enjoyed it. In this book he writes about his imprisonment during WWII in Korea and at first it took me a bit to get used to his style of writing. Compared to Corrie Ten Boom’s account, his seems very unemotional and formal but I think it’s because he wrote his quite a while after his time in prison and I think he struggled with different things. Unfortunately, I think the book is out of print now (I read a copy borrowed from a friend) but it is still worth reading if you have the chance.
        Currently, I’m reading “The Valley of Vision”, which isn’t really a biography but still a treasure to read.

      • Thanks, Elena! I’ll keep an eye out. Love the Valley of Vision! Have a blessed Easter!

  2. Kristin says:

    Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve enjoyed “Rebecca” since high school, and I recently saw the Alfred Hitchcock movie version (which was excellent. Mrs. Danvers is a creephouse, though.) My grandmother recently gave me all her old Daphne DuMaurier books, and “My Cousin Rachel” was among them. I’ll have to check it out sometime!

  3. Pingback: of Monica Dickens: Mariana | part of the main

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