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


  1. I've never heard of this book, but I did read what is probably the most famous du Maurier book: Rebecca. Now that book I might recommend. It's certainly much more interesting and engaging than you've made My Cousin Rachel sound. Plus, didn't it get made into a Hitchcock movie or something?

    - Rebecca

  2. I'm signed up with the Du Maurier Challenge, but don't worry, I know everyone has different opinions. When reading, I'm character driven--if I connect with a character I tend to value a book more, so we shall see.

    Our book club is reading her Frenchman's Creek in October.

  3. That's a bummer about My Cousin Rachel. I had been thinking about reading that for the Du Maurier Challenge. I still may give it a shot, we'll see.

  4. I'm sorry you didn't like the book, but I'm glad you didn't have high/any expectations--nothing to be disappointed with!

  5. I'm sorry to hear it didn't work for you. I love Du Maurier, but I haven't read this one yet. The misogyny might bother me too, but it depends on how it's framed within the story.

  6. I stopped by your blog today. (I'm not sure what part of Surrey you are in but I used to live near Croydon). Good review. By the way, I love the restful picture of the park bench.
    Cozy In Texas
    Less of Me

  7. Thank you all for your comments, I can see Du Maurier is a beloved writer and I am sorry that I didn't like the book but as some of you have said, not everyone likes the same kind of story.

    I have never read Rebecca and after reading My Cousin Rachel I honestly don't think i'll bother with Du Maurier again. She had her chance to impress me and didn't carry it off (first impressions and all that) there are just too many other books I want to read!


  8. I'm sorry you didn't like this book. It's not the best du Maurier. Rebecca is my favourite then The House on the Strand and The Scapegoat.