My Cousin Rachel: my thoughts

I bought this book a few months ago while  I was in a gothic fiction phase. This is not unusual for me because gothic fiction and romance is one of my favorite types of books to read (there’s something about sinister characters and spooky manor houses that I can’t get enough of) but sometimes I go through these little phases where I’ll read several in succession. Well I happened to be at Target and saw the movie cover version on sale and I bought it. (Though I typically hate movie covers this one wasn’t terrible and it was on sale… OK OK I JUST WANTED TO READ IT GEEZ)

Brief synopsis:

Philip Ashley, the cousin and adopted son and heir of Ambrose Ashley is devastated by the marriage and shortly after, death of Ambrose while on a long trip to Italy for his health. Ambrose, a confirmed lifelong bachelor travels to the continent each year for his health, leaving Philip to run the estate in his absence. On his final trip, he meets and falls in love with a distant family connection and then marries her. He writes home to Philip delighted with his new wife but after several weeks he sends Philip paranoid letters home asking for help claiming his wife is spying on him and keeping him under lock and key. His health declines further and he dies before Philip can make it to him. Grief stricken, Philip suspects the wife of foul play and makes up his mind to hate her while everyone else puts Ambrose’s death and strange behavior down to a brain tumor which is how his own father had died (also having behaved strangely before his death). When Rachel comes to visit the estate, Philip is convinced of her guilt… until he meets her. She is graceful and attractive and devastated over the loss of her husband. Surely she can’t be guilty? Or is she?

My thoughts:

The tension in this book is wonderful. I think this is something that Daphne Du Maurier excels at in all the books I’ve read of hers.  The whole first section of the book we can understand Philip’s thoughts and we are dying to meet Rachel.  When Rachel finally appears, we are constantly left wondering if she did it.  We become convinced of her innocence and her guilt in turns. Certain incidents appear to repeat themselves and we are unsure whether it is coincidence or whether Rachel has a hand in it. The atmosphere alone makes this book what it is.

There are several key characters in this book and often it is difficult to see what their motivations are. Rachel is both fascinating and complex. Philip is naive and probably the most annoying character I have ever encountered in fiction. There were many times that I wanted to reach through the pages and smack some common sense into him or just smack him in general. If you prefer character based stories, Philip may turn you off the entire book but I am a plot reader so I kept it up.  Meanwhile, characters like Rachel’s lawyer (whose name escapes me at the moment) seem very sinister while Philip’s friend Louise seems like the only normal character in the book.

The book was a page turner for me but it is seldom that a character annoys me the way Philip did.  I enjoyed the read, but I thought the ending just a little flat. Though some might argue that the ending is what makes this book so great. To sum it up, I guess I’d say that the story was great, there were some good characters (and one really annoying one), but that personally I found the ending just a bit unsatisfying.  I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads.

Thanks for joining me and happy reading 🙂

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Project Poirot

Some time around September I was binge watching booktube and came across a new book tuber who had just started what she called Project Poirot. Even if you are not an avid Agatha Christie fan, you will probably have heard of her most famous detective- Hercule Poirot.  Now I happen to be one of those who love Agatha Christie and in the last 20 or so years since I discovered Agatha Christie (holy shit I’m getting old) I have read all of her Hercule Poirot books and most of the short stories at some point.  When I am in a reading slump I often pick up one of my favorite of these and it gets me right back in the reading mood.

What intrigued me about Project Poirot is that we are reading all 40 ish (there’s 40ish depending on whether you consider the play adaptations novels or not) IN ORDER over the course of a year.  Not only does this play into my borderline obsession with Hercule Poirot, it is also fascinating to see how her writing evolved over the course of her career and how Poirot himself evolved as a character.  Taking it a step further, one of the things I also find fascinating was to see how the quality of her writing changed before and after (what is largely considered to be her masterpiece) The Murder on the Orient Express.

The list of books that I’m going through is:

  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  2. Murder on the Links
  3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (considered by some to be her masterpiece)
  4. The Big Four
  5. The Mystery of the Blue Train
  6. Peril at End House
  7. Lord Edgware Dies
  8. Murder in Mesopotamia
  9. Murder on the Orient Express
  10. Three Act Tragedy
  11. Death in the Clouds
  12. The ABC Murders
  13. Dumb Witness
  14. Cards on the Table
  15. Death on the Nile
  16. Appointment with Death
  17. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
  18. One Two Buckle My Shoe
  19. Sad Cypress
  20. Evil Under the Sun
  21. Five Little Pigs
  22. The Hollow
  23. Taken at the Flood
  24. Mrs Mcginty’s Dead
  25. After the Funeral
  26. Hickory Dickory Dock
  27. Dead Man’s Folly
  28. Cat Among the Pigeons
  29. The Clocks
  30. Third Girl
  31. Halloween Party
  32. Elephants Can Remember
  33. Curtain

I joined this challenge a little late and was a couple books behind and then I caught up but I am now behind again as I am missing the next book in succession and haven’t been able to find it at the libraries near me.  So I will be purchasing that book along with a couple of others.  This has been a really enjoyable challenge and I enjoy how Mara creates a video for each book she completes.

If there are any fellow Christie fans out there reading this, what do you think about this challenge?