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SueK

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

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I picked this up this week and am absolutely engrossed. I remember having it read to us at school but I had almost forgotten it. She wrote this after the success of Rebecca and Jamaica Inn and it centres around Menabilly where Du Maurier lived in Cornwall which was fictionalised in Rebecca as Manderley (unnamed in this book). It has the same brooding atmosphere of Rebecca but this is more a novel of suspense right to the last page.

 

Philip Ashley has lived with his older cousin Ambrose for years in the grand house in Cornwall and both are devoted bachelors. Every winter Ambrose travels to warmer climes due to bad bouts of rhuematism. This time he travels to Florence where he meets Rachel who is a distant cousin. Totally unexpectedly, he marries her but never returns to his beloved Cornwall as he dies in sudden circumstances. Philip has to convince himself that Rachel had no hand in his death .....

 

Needless to say, Daphne du Maurier's descriptions of the Cornish coastline and by contrast, the Tuscany landscapes, are just wonderful and the plotline is excellent.

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I really enjoyed this book. There are many similarities with the more famous 'Rebecca', but I think I prefer this.

There is a mystery about Ambrose Ashley's death, and his widow is suspected of, among other things, poisoning him. As his nephew Philip struggles with love and suspicion, the reader shares his contradictory views of his cousin Rachel. As in 'Rebecca' the central question is not whodunnit, but the triple one of, did Rachel murderAmbrose, was there anything suspicious about the death of her first husband, and is she trying to poison Philip?

A most enjoyable period romance/mystery.

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