24 July 2009

My Cousin Rachel

Young English gentleman Philip Ashley despises his cousin and guardian Ambrose's bride, Rachel. Although he's never met her, Philip blames the foreign Rachel for his cousin's sudden death in Italy. He vows to make her pay. But upon meeting her, Philip becomes infatuated with the charming Rachel. Or is she so charming?

I'm a big Daphne Du Maurier fan - her novel Rebecca is one of my all-time favorite books - so when I saw My Cousin Rachel at my local library, I happily checked it out. I really love Du Maurier's style, and she doesn't disappoint in this novel. Her first person narration is excellent: It's elegant, amusing, and realistic. Her reputation as a suspense writer is justly deserved. She has a true knack for creating tension and mystery. Du Maurier's engaging style and plot makes My Cousin Rachel a fun read, especially for summer.

I did, however, become a little exasperated with Philip, but his stubborn, impulsive nature was established early on. Although some of his actions are dense, these decisions do seem natural for him. I also found the pacing a little uneven. This novel starts out really well, then lags some in the middle, before racing on to an excellent ending. It's easy to forgive the pacing flaws though: Du Maurier's writing, even when nothing is happening, is enjoyable to read.

Character and pacing issues aside, I really enjoyed My Cousin Rachel. I once read that Du Maurier considered her novels studies of jealousy above anything else. I agree. She excels at portraying the insidious influence of envy. For a fun, suspenseful read, try My Cousin Rachel.

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