My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel

by Daphne du Maurier

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My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

From the bestselling author of Rebecca, another classic set in beautiful and mysterious Cornwall.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402217098
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 03/01/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 394
Sales rank: 55,658
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Daphne du Maurier was born in London in 1907, the second daughter of a famous stage actor and actress. Her first novel was published in 1931, but it was her 1938 novel Rebecca which made her one of the most successful writers of her time. Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of the book won the Best Picture Oscar in 1940, and he used her material again for his classic The Birds. In 1969, Du Maurier was created a Dame of the British Empire.

At the age of 81, Du Maurier died at home in her beloved Cornwall, the region that had been the setting for many of her books.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter One

They used to hang men at Four Turnings in the old days.

Not any more, though. Now, when a murderer pays the penalty for his crime, he does so up at Bodmin, after fair trial at the Assizes. That is, if the law convicts him, before his own conscience kills him. It is better so. Like a surgical operation. And the body has decent burial, though a nameless grave. When I was a child it was otherwise. I can remember as a little lad seeing a fellow hang in chains where the four roads meet. His face and body were blackened with tar for preservation. He hung there for five weeks before they cut him down, and it was the fourth week that I saw him.

He swung between earth and sky upon his gibbet, or, as my cousin Ambrose told me, betwixt heaven and hell. Heaven he would never achieve, and the hell that he had known was lost to him. Ambrose prodded at the body with his stick. I can see it now, moving with the wind like a weather-vane on a rusty pivot, a poor scarecrow of what had been a man. The rain had rotted his breeches, if not his body, and strips of worsted drooped from his swollen limbs like pulpy paper.

It was winter, and some passing joker had placed a sprig of holly in the torn vest for celebration. Somehow, at seven years old, that seemed to me the final outrage, but I said nothing. Ambrose must have taken me there for a purpose, perhaps to test my nerve, to see if I would run away, or laugh, or cry. As my guardian, father, brother, counsellor, as in fact my whole world, he was forever testing me. We walked around the gibbet, I remember, with Ambrose prodding and poking with his stick; and then he paused and lit his pipe, and laid his hand upon my shoulder.

'There you are, Philip,' he said, 'it's what we all come to in the end. Some upon a battlefield, some in bed, others according to their destiny. There's no escape. You can't learn the lesson too young. But this is how a felon dies. A warning to you and me to lead the sober life.' We stood there side by side, watching the body swing, as though we were on a jaunt to Bodmin fair, and the corpse was old Sally to be hit for coconuts. 'See what a moment of passion can bring upon a fellow,' said Ambrose. 'Here is Tom Jenkyn, honest and dull, except when he drank too much. It's true his wife was a scold, but that was no excuse to kill her. If we killed women for their tongues all men would be murderers.'

I wished he had not named the man. Up to that moment the body had been a dead thing, without identity. It would come into my dreams, lifeless and horrible, I knew that very well from the first instant I had set my eyes upon the gibbet. Now it would have connection with reality, and with the man with watery eyes who sold lobsters on the town quay. He used to stand by the steps in the summer months, his basket beside him, and he would set his live lobsters to crawl along the quay in a fantastic race, to make the children laugh. It was not so long ago that I had seen him.

'Well,' said Ambrose, watching my face, 'what do you make of him?'

I shrugged my shoulders, and kicked the base of the gibbet with my foot. Ambrose must never know I cared, that I felt sick at heart, and terrified. He would despise me. Ambrose at twenty-seven was god of all creation, certainly god of my own narrow world, and the whole object of my life was to resemble him.

'Tom had a brighter face when I saw him last,' I answered. 'Now he isn't fresh enough to become bait for his own lobsters.'

Ambrose laughed, and pulled my ears. 'That's my boy,' he said. 'Spoken like a true philosopher.' And then he added, with a sudden flash of perception, 'If you feel squeamish, go and be sick behind the hedge there, and remember I have not seen you.'

He turned his back upon the gibbet and the four roads, and went striding away down the new avenue he was planting at the time, which cut through the woods and was to serve as a second carriage-way to the house. I was glad to see him go because I did not reach the hedge in time. I felt better afterwards, though my teeth chattered and I was very cold. Tom Jenkyn lost identity again, and became a lifeless thing, like an old sack. He was even a target for the stone I threw. Greatly daring, I watched to see the body move. But nothing happened. The stone hit the sodden clothing with a plonk, then shied away. Ashamed of my action I sped off down the new avenue in search of Ambrose.

Well, that was all of eighteen years ago, and to the best of my recollection I have not thought much of it since. Until these last few days. It is strange how in moments of great crisis the mind whips back to childhood. Somehow I keep thinking of poor Tom, and how he hung there in his chains. I never heard his story, and few people would remember it now. He killed his wife, so Ambrose said. And that was all. She was a scold, but that was no excuse for murder. Possibly, being over-fond of drink, he killed her in his cups. But how? And with what weapon? With a knife, or with his bare hands? Perhaps Tom staggered forth from the inn upon the quay, that winter's night, all lit with love and fever. And the tide was high, splashing upon the steps, and the moon was also full, shining on the water. Who knows what dreams of conquest filled his unquiet mind, what sudden burst of fantasy?

He may have groped his way home to his cottage behind the church, a pale rheumy-eyed fellow stinking of lobster, and his wife lashed out at him for bringing his damp feet inside the door, which broke his dream, and so he killed her. That well might be his story. If there is survival after death, as we are taught to believe, I shall seek out poor Tom and question him. We will dream in purgatory together. But he was a middle-aged man of some sixty years or more, and I am five-and-twenty. Our dreams would not be the same. So go back into your shadows, Tom, and leave me some measure of peace. That gibbet has long since gone, and you with it. I threw a stone at you in ignorance. Forgive me.

The point is, life has to be endured, and lived. But how to live it is the problem. The work of day by day presents no difficulties. I shall become a Justice of the Peace, as Ambrose was, and also be returned, one day, to Parliament. I shall continue to be honoured and respected, like all my family before me. Farm the land well, look after the people. No one will ever guess the burden of blame I carry on my shoulders; nor will they know that every day, haunted still by doubt, I ask myself a question which I cannot answer. Was Rachel innocent or guilty? Maybe I shall learn that too, in purgatory.

How soft and gentle her name sounds when I whisper it. It lingers on the tongue, insidious and slow, almost like poison, which is apt indeed. It passes from the tongue to the parched lips, and from the lips back to the heart. And the heart controls the body, and the mind also. Shall I be free of it one day? In forty, in fifty years? Or will some lingering trace of matter in the brain stay pallid and diseased? Some minuscule cell in the blood stream fail to race with its fellows to the fountain heart? Perhaps, when all is said and done, I shall have no wish to be free. As yet, I cannot tell.

I still have the house to cherish, which Ambrose would have me do. I can reface the walls where the damp enters, and keep all sound and well and in repair. Continue to plant trees and shrubs, cover the bare hills where the wind comes roaring from the east. Leave some legacy of beauty when I go, if nothing else. But a lonely man is an unnatural man, and soon comes to perplexity. From perplexity to fantasy. From fantasy to madness. And so I swing back again to Tom Jenkyn, hanging in his chains. Perhaps he suffered too.

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My Cousin Rachel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Jjeys More than 1 year ago
A good addition to Rebecca by the same author.
pinder92 More than 1 year ago
I have loved Daphne du Maurier since I read Rebecca in High School, No 50 it has been a 35 year love affair! This book I didn't read until my 30's at my Mother-in-laws suggestion. One of those novels that pulls you in and takes you on a roller coster ride of emotion. At the end I said "I never saw that coming". Have re read it many times and enjoy it like an old friend.
concon More than 1 year ago
I have read most of her books. This one was a shock. I still can't figure out the ending. It does make you think. She grabs you from the first line
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of the familial psycho-drama, this classic from DuMaurier is a great example of the genre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was superb...daphne du maurier leaves so many questions unanswered...the story is a tru mystery with such an intense plot..a must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully looping, making you wonder what you know, what is truth. Differences in perspective and culture and gender well crafted amidst scenes of natural beauty. I'm inclined to trust dogs.
SkyeCaitlin More than 1 year ago
My Cousin Rachel is a haunting, provocative tale of obsessive love and deceit. Ambrose is a wealthy land owner who raises his young cousin Philip and makes him heir to his estate; however, things are set into motion when Ambrose travels to Italy and meets their Cousin Rachel. This novel is narrated exclusively by Philip's perceptions, emotions and fears. Suspense slowly mounts throughout the novel and is beautifully executed by the writer of Rebecca.. du Maurier creates twists and turns, throughout, and leaves the reader pondering outcomes. Fans of Gothicism may find this a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very intriguing ......great character development. Would make a great movie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great du Maurier... It had me going right to the end. Highly recommend this psycho thriller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I am tired. You don't pull any sh<_>it out on me tomorrow, and I am yours." He grins.
Egie More than 1 year ago
Had never read du Maurier books until recently. She is a fabulous writer, and this book is extrememly well written. Wish she had written even more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DuMaurier was a master storyteller
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I read 'Rebecca' years ago and have seen the movie numerous times. So I was excited to read another by this author. It definately leaves you guessing and I did want more closure. But not having closure has really made me think about what could have happened and what I wanted to have happened. I am not sure if Rachel was really bad and Phillip was taken in by or her or if it was all a misunderstanding?? Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
And endless story which leaves you with its mystery unfolding in your mind, I certainly wouldn't deem it Daphne du Maurier's best work. It keeps you gripped in the beginning, spinning a web of mystery around the personality of cousin Rachel. The interest dims down until Philip gets involved. But it's a mystery and remains one, even after the end. Actually ever since reading it, I have been compelled to wonder as to who was more insensible...Philip or Rachel?
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was an amazing book up until the ending which sorely dissapointed me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
O.Simon'R.A', I am student in Rosslyn academy., 02/16/2005 review is all wrong I dont know what book he/she was reading this book has nothing to do with south America and ambrose is an only child with no siblings. The book starts of a little dull i would admit but its a bit of reading that you start to understand as the book progress. Did Rachel kill Amborose? did she have a part of his death? Now toward the end did Phillip let Rachel die? was it a mistake or was it the last act of jealous many reader have over looked? the used to hang man is he talking about rachel or himself?
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿My cousin Rachel¿ by Daphne du Maurier ¿My cousin Rachel¿ is one of popular books of Dephane du Maurier. She is one of the popular South American authors. She is the author of ¿Rebecca.¿ This book is about a woman whose name is Rachel. She lives in Italy and then when her husband (Ambrose) is dead she goes back to South America to her husband¿s brother. His name is Philip. The book mainly talks about her life in there; and about things happened in her life. It also talks about her sadness and her happiness. The book is pretty good. Her writing style is simple and any one could understand it. It shows a little bit about South American culture. The book is interesting. It has funny and sad things. It shows the lives of people in rural areas in early years, as far back as 1917. It is an exciting book. The author describes the player briefly. Rachel is a good person. She has confidence. She is strong. She doesn¿t worry quickly about some thing even if many things happen in her life. Philip also seems good person but some times he is kind of cruel and he makes her sad. But sometimes he seems to cares about her. When you compare this book with other books it is a good book but there are many books more than this book. Because sometimes it has unnecessary thing so sometimes you get bored. May be if she can write in a more interesting and simple way that makes no one gets bored, many people can read it. I appreciate if every one reads this book. This book is a nice book to read and to feel happy and to get a little bit knowledge about South America. It shows that there are good writers in South America.