My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

We liked the novel, a page turner, and the discussion was interesting especially from the point of view of the final outcome. Was she a ‘poisoner’ or were the ‘men’ paranoid, one suffering a brain tumour and the other young, unsophisticated and naive. Phillip was shaped by Ambrose with no mother to guide or to influence him. Ambrose’s misanthropic lifestyle and Phillip’s very first memory of Tom Jackson the ‘murderer” hanging by the road, gave him the dark and gloomy side of his nature.

Well, you loved Daphne’s du Maurier’s descriptors of the Cornish countryside, the landscape, the sea, you could almost smell the scent of the flowers. You felt you were kept in suspense throughout the novel and it’s peculiar ‘Victorian’ ambience was enjoyed. The servants characters and relationships between master and servants was also liked.

What was Rachel playing at? Was she a mother, friend, lover or a fantastic actress? A book full of emotion, fear, obsession and jealously. Also avarice, greed and confusion. Did Phillip ignore the clues left by Ambrose? Did Rachel seduce him? There was no clue as to what Rachel thought, nothing was seen through her eyes.

You acknowledged that for a woman like Rachel who had had a difficult, had faced hardship in her younger life, using men to obtain money was her only option. Acquisitiveness was a means to bettering oneself there was no other way of making money.

Some of you felt the novel Rebecca had more suspense. The atmosphere of My Cousin Rachel was felt to be oppressive. Sometimes the story was dragged a little.

So the outcome: 5 of us found Rachel guilty of murdering Ambrose and trying to poison Phillip whilst three of us decided she was innocent. We decided that Phillip was definitely a ‘murderer’.

Meanwhile lots of other books to read by Daphne du Maurier and many written about her, biographies, etc. can be found written both in french and English.

August 14th is the date of our next meeting, and the book to read is:

Naufrages or Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura.

Janyvonne has kindly agreed to take the meeting which will probably be in Carine’s home as the Chateau may be closed in August. We will let you know.