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After being orphaned, Philip was raised by his older cousin Ambrose Ashley on an estate in Cornwall. As a very young man, Philip learns that the older cousin that he reveres has met and married a widow named Rachel in Florence, Italy. Jealous because of the separation from his cousin Ambrose, his emotions turn to suspicion when letters from Ambrose arrive suggesting that he is ill and that his wife Rachel may actually be harming him. When Philip travels to Florence to investigate, it is too late, and his beloved cousin Ambrose has already died. Rachel has left town. There was no provision in Ambrose's will for Rachel. He has left everything to Philip. Later, Rachel turns up in England and makes a visit. Initially prepared to hate her, Philip at once develops an intense fondness for Rachel. The visit lasts for many months, and Ambrose, too begins to doubt her sincerity. He suspects her of treachery...even of poisoning him, but is still drawn by his affection for her. The central suspense of the story is whether Rachel is an evil conniver or simply a person who is misunderstood, even if exceedingly materialistic and spendthrift. This is a highly engaging story, whose complex, ambiguous characters keep you wondering long after you have finished it. The narration is superb.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
I admit to being a huge du Maurier fan, so perhaps I am biased in favor of "My Cousin Rachel" from the outset. I loved listening to it.
(I started reading it years ago, but lost the book at a spa, absent-minded fool that I am).
I didn't find Rachel to be entirely unsympathetic. She is intriguing. (Strangely I thought frequently of the inscrutable "Anna Barton" in "Damage," another woman who left tragedy in her wake).
Philip is not one-dimensional. Like Hamlet, he is unable to act. He does not seem to know who he is or what he wants, although he describes his life in detail, a life anchored to traditions and earthy activities.
As in "Rebecca," the one who is absent is also very much present, always.
The book is hardly flawless, of course, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Jonathon Pryce is a good narrator, to be sure.
Now on to "The King's General."
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
What a brilliant listen! It did take me a while to get into this: Jonathan Pryce's style may not be to everyone's liking, but it grew on me. Du Maurier weaves a twisting tale of intrigue - such that you are constantly switiching allegiances between Rachel and the narrator. Who is the mad person? At one moment you're sure it's her - the next, it's obviously him! There is a strong seam of feminist thinking here. Listen carefully as Du Maurier describes the differences between men and women in the stereotypical language of her days: women are seen as emotional, lacking in stability etc; - this plays directly into the narrators assessment of Rachel and is something to keep in mind as you assess his judgment of who Rachel is and what she has done to Cousin Ambrose!!
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
An atmospheric story of romance and destruction, My Cousin Rachel is arguably just as good as the more famous Rebecca. The plot is centred around the mysterious woman who unexpectedly comes into the life of Philip Ashley, when his idolised cousin Ambrose marries her in Italy, and subsequently dies. Philip, who was raised by Ambrose, is heartbroken by his cousin’s marriage, and devastated by his death, and harbours a strong resentment towards the woman who stole Ambrose’s affection and kept him away from Philip. His anger is driven by the troubling letters he received from Ambrose not long before his death, letters which seem to suggest that Rachel was the cause of his untimely demise… When Rachel turns up at Philip’s Cornish home, high emotions come to the fore, and fate has more cards to play.
Du Maurier’s work is spell-binding because of her admirable skill in characterisation. She manages to portray the moods of the young and immature Philip Ashley so convincingly that the reader at once understands his narration from his point of view, but is also able to see further than he can himself, and interpret his behaviour – and that of the other characters – more than he does himself. The book’s plot is tantalising and engaging, the characters well-rounded, interesting and sympathetic. The prose is beautifully executed, and the structure of the book is magnificent.
The narration by Jonathan Pryce is excellent. He is a fantastic actor and does justice to this incredible book, reading very convincingly and engagingly.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
The narrator's voice was a bit sing songy which was a bit irritating although I did get used to it. A good yarn though.
Great performance by Jonathan Pryce!
This really added to the beauty and richness of the story.