Title: My Cousin Rachel
Author: Daphne Du Maurier
Genre: Fiction / gothic
Rating: 5 / 5
After a few bad to mediocre books, I knew I needed something good, and I had a hunch that Dame Daphne wouldn’t let me down. And she sure didn’t. This is my favorite book of the year so far although it’s true, I have only read 20.
Anyway this book is so good. I don’t even know what to say about books this good. They just put my brain in a sort of catatonic state of “good, me likely,” maybe somewhat similar to maybe eating a really big, delicious piece of chocolate mousse cake.
So, this is a gothic novel, and like other gothic novels, it involves a big house and property. In this case we also have a dead person, an unreliable narrator, and tons of ambiguity. I loved it so much! The first chapter is totally foreshadowy and sets the perfect ominous tone, the narrator kind of cops to something, obliquely, but we’re not sure what exactly it is. Then the story starts, pretty much from the beginning, outlining the life of the narrator, the orphaned-and-brought-up-by-his-cousin Phillip, heir to a Cornish estate. Phillip is somewhat reclusive, only really wanting the company of said cousin, Ambrose, and both Phillip and Ambrose scorn women and the married life as being something unnecessary and without interest. That is, until Ambrose’s poor health sends him abroad for part of the year. On one of these annual vacations to the Continent, Ambrose meets someone…his cousin (and Phillip’s cousin) Rachel.
And ohhhh my god does it ever get good from there! Read it read it just read it!
I love the writing style, I love the suspense, the suspicion, the horror she can evoke. I love the story. I love what du Maurier says about people–or maybe I don’t, it’s not exactly pleasant at times, but it does feel so true. It’s all really quite simple I suppose, but du Maurier’s magic is that she can she can evoke a tortured mind so well, where nothing seems simple. And is it really all that simple, in the end? Only deceptively. Like I said before, it’s quite ambiguous, so while I may have my own personal idea of the “truth,” there is plenty of evidence to argue another angle. I just love books like this, and My Cousin Rachel is one of my favorites.