Friday, 21 May 2010
Daphe Du Maurier book club choice
I read 'My Cousin Rachel' as part of a book club experiment. Normally I would not entertain such an idea but Jessica said it would be an interesting experience to blog about so I gave it a go.
Philip and Ambrose are two cousins who live together in a mansion in Cornwall sometime in the early 19th century. Philip was orphaned as a young boy and taken in by Ambrose who raised him. The two are very close to each other. Ambrose's health begins to decline so he takes a trip to Europe to aid his recovery. Whilst there he meets cousin Rachel, falls in love, marries her and the two live together in Florence leaving Philip to stew back in Cornwall. When Ambrose turns up dead Philip immediately smells foul play and sets off to Florence to investigate.
I would like to start with the positive aspects of the book. The story was technically well written and the Cornish setting was conveyed effectively. The characters are well developed and I did feel a good sense of who they were and what their motivations were. I felt the language and use of vocabulary was well done and convincing.
Now the negative; I felt the story was dull, predictable and just plain unlikely. The characters, though well put together, were not at all likeable and I found myself not caring what happened to any of them. Both Philip and Ambrose are misogynistic in the extreme and their views on women irritated me a great deal (although I do appreciate this accurately portrays a common attitude in those days) the story itself is not at all plausible and thoroughly predictable.
The main character, Philip, spends most of the book sulking and pouting like a big child when things don't go his way. His spoilt-brat personality ensured I disliked him from the outset and didn't care one jot what happened to him. Initially he hates Rachel and is very hostile and suspicious towards her. He convinces himself she has something to do with Ambrose's death However once he meets her in person Philip soon forgets his dear cousin Ambrose and falls for Rachel (give me strength) I can't say much more without giving too much away. All I will add is that the ending appeared out of nowhere, I was surprised by how it ended but also felt it was rushed and ill thought out.
All in all I wouldn't pick up a Du Maurier book again, it really isn't my cup of tea which in a way I found gratifying since I predicted this would be the case.
Once I've discussed this book with the other book club readers I will post my final thoughts here on the blog.
Posted by Chris