book review, Book Reviews, Books, Female Characters, Fiction, historical fiction, Horror, Opinion, review

Thoughts on “My Cousin Rachel” by Daphne du Maurier


As an avid fan of du Maurier’s Rebecca, I have to confess that I was a bit disappointed with My Cousin Rachel.

It started off very strong with little Philip coming face to face with the corpse of a man who had been hanged for murdering his wife, a scene which instantly hooked me into the story as it seemed to indicate that shit was going to go down.

Unfortunately nothing that happens in the novel thereafter really has as much of a punch as the beginning would seem to indicate.

What I did like: 

Du Maurier does a fantastic job of setting up atmosphere and generating feelings of unease as well as mystery. I think she also does a magnificent job of creating characters and relationships. None of them came across as flat or one-dimensional, even the side characters who didn’t do all that much.

I award du Maurier bonus points for writing a male for the lead. As someone who often struggles writing for members of the opposite sex, I thought du Maurier did an excellent job of capturing the mindset of a 19th century Englishman. If I had no indication as to who the author was, I would have thought this book had been written by a man.

The pacing is excellent too, never focusing on any one scene for too long.

What I didn’t like: 

As I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of build-up for not a lot of pay-off. It became clear as soon as Philip recovered from his “illness” that du Maurier was not going to go balls-to-the-wall as I was hoping she would do.

What puzzles me is why Rachel allowed him to get better. Did she have second thoughts? Was it because the writer needed him to? I’m so confused.

Also I’m disappointed there was no final confrontation between the two of them where Rachel dropped all pretense and showed Phillip her true colors. Perhaps that would have been a little too soup opera, but it would have been more satisfying for me to see the real Rachel for a moment, instead of just the repercussions of her actions.

It  would have been so interesting to see how she interacted with someone who has her confidant, a.k.a the doctor. You could make the argument that it’s creepier because we don’t know but I disagree. I think more would actually be better in the case of this story.

Overall opinion: 

This was by no means a bad book, I’m just disappointed because I know it could have been better. If it had been just a little bit more I would probably rank it up there along with Rebecca which is one of my favorite horror novels of all time.

I’m curious to see if the movie does a better job on delivering on scares. Based on Hollywood’s track record, I wouldn’t hold out much hope.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on “My Cousin Rachel” by Daphne du Maurier”

  1. So happy to find someone else who was disappointed by this book. Virtually all other reviews I’ve seen think its wonderfully atmospheric and tense but I didnt get that sense at all. it promised a lot but failed to deliver.

    BTW thanks for following my blog today – I was looking for your profile page to leave a comment there but couldnt find one and then I saw this post instead….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it was plenty atmospheric, but there’s no point in building something up if there isn’t going to be a pay off. And you’re welcome! I’m still playing around with the blog lay-out so I haven’t mastered all the widgets yet so I don’t really have a bio except for the one connected with my avatar.


  2. Funny that you think she was a murderer. The book in no way says that. It deliberately leaves ambiguity. We don’t know if she knew what she was doing or not. Not sure how you missed that point.


    1. It’s pretty obvious she knew what she was doing. Rachel may have been a stranger in a foreign land, but she wasn’t stupid. There’s an overabundance of evidence that she was trying to kill him to get his inheritance as she did his uncle before him. She was a good actress, but she was most certainly a black widow.


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