My Cousin Rachel: Book Review by Asha Seth

I would love to believe that it is this very thought that set the tones for ‘My Cousin Rachel’ for Miss Maurier. One likes to wish!

I wondered how it could be that two people who had loved could yet have such a misconception of each other and, with a common grief, grow far apart. There must be something in the nature of love between a man and a woman that drove them to torment and suspicion.

Let’s get on with the review, shall we?

Is Rachel evil or not? Is she responsible or not for Ambrose’s death? Is she innocent or guilty?

The one mystery that’s left unanswered!

my cousin rachel
Image Credit: Goodreads

Philip Ashley is orphaned at an early age and is raised by his old cousin Ambrose Ashley in Cornwall. Due to health constraints, Ambrose makes a trip to Rome to spend the winter there and while traveling he meets his distant cousin and widow Countess Rachel Sangaletti, a woman Philip has never heard about before.

Quite to Philip’s surprise, Ambrose falls in love with Rachel and they get married. While away, Ambrose keeps writing to Philip and telling him about his whereabouts. Slowly, the letters grow infrequent and once or twice, Ambrose mentions that he has fallen sick and no matter what treatment, he does not seem to recover.

By the time, Philip reaches the villa where his ill cousin and his wife had stayed, he is dumbstruck to know that Ambrose is dead and that his wife along-with an old friend by the name Rainaldi has left the house. Gradually, as the story unfolds, Philip cannot stop but fall head-over-heels in love with Rachel. Towards the end, Philip starts to suffer with the same headache and fever pangs like Ambrose did.

But who is responsible behind everything, the reader has to find out.


My Cousin’s Rachel is the work of a genius with the kind of intricately woven tale of mystery that it is. A psychological thriller that keeps you awake right through the nights so that you finally uncover the mystery – Is Rachel really a shrewd woman responsible for her husband’s death or merely a weak woman mourning his death?

Very few writers, have such a profound reach into the feminine psyche as Miss Maurier. What makes me say this, you ask? Her quotes as these.

If we killed women for their tongues all men would be murderers.”

And this,

“I would not be young again, if you offered me the world. But then I’m prejudiced.’
‘You talk,’ I said, ‘as if you were ninety-nine.’
‘For a woman I very nearly am,’ she said. ‘I’m thirty five.”

The story and scenes are all brilliantly worked upon by Miss Maurier. The settings, characters, their psychological anomalies in different situations, are all impeccably built and portrayed.

The steady suspense keeps growing intense with each page and you are left to wonder if the climax will ever end. It may very well appear tedious and too demanding of concentration, but we must remember that it is a classic at the end of the day. So it does tend to get slow but not once does the reader feel left out.  The intriguing mindful manipulations of Rachel make even the silliest look smartest.

In short, it is one of those cozy books that you can read through the day sitting on the porch with infrequent sips of tea and enjoy it tremendously despite the ambiguity caused by the author.

If you happen to read ‘My Cousin Rachel‘ or have already read it, do share your thoughts below.

©The Musing Quill

30 thoughts on “My Cousin Rachel: Book Review by Asha Seth

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        1. Never watched the movies. But I intend to watch the version releasing this year with Rachel Weisz. I enjoyed Jamaica Inn too. And of course, Rebecca. Going to read Frenchman’s Creek soon. She was damn good. Daphne was.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Weitz would be an excellent Rebecca I’m glad they chose her! I haven’t read Jamaica Inn but heard it is good, now you’ve said it is, I will read it too. She was damn good, very original, then again great part of the world for inspiration! Watch the original Rebecca you’d love it.


            1. But Weisz is doing My Cousin Rachel right? It’s coming out this year. Or am I mistaken? I’ll have to check.
              Yes, you’ll enjoy Jamaica Inn too. It’s her first novel but hard to say. She’s way too good. Knew what she was doing since the start.
              Since you mention, I’ll try and get a copy of it.

              Liked by 1 person

  1. I have a very very worn out penguin edition of this book. Rebecca is Daphne Du Maurier’s most famous novel but My Cousin Rachel is my personal favorite. Have you read Jamaica Inn? Another great book by Maurier.


  2. I enjoyed this book, but I wish there had been more of a bite to it. I don’t mind slow-burns, but it didn’t feel like there was enough of a pay-off. I loved the way she looped back around to the beginning of the story at the very end, however.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She’s quite a tale-teller but not so much a spinner, that Miss Maurier. Her other books too have left me with a similar impression as you. I always felt myself expecting a lot more but I love her writings nonetheless.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your review of the book couldn’t hold on my curiosity reading it.
    First of all a woman who is already been widowed …and if she remarries …why on earth she will would poison her husband? There’s no solid evidence found throughout the story.
    I think there is some misunderstanding in the Philip Ashley about Rachel which subsides after reading the letter from her lawyer…he goes to meet her in sunken garden but it’s too late. Rachel falls from from the bridge.
    The story has a sad ending.
    At the end I feel Rachel is innocent and there’s no enough evidence against her.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The incident which tempts me to think about is to why Rachel took care of Philip when he suffered from meningitis? She could have poisoned him straight away…when Rachel decides to go back to Italy and when she goes to inspect the sunken garden Philip sneaks inside Rachel’s room to find letter of Lawyer Rainaldi which reveals that Rachel is innocent and genuinely cares for him…Philip realises that in order to reach the sunken garden Rachel must cross the bridge which the builder had declared unsafe….for his fears becoming true Rachel had already fallen down from the bridge..and is on verge of death as Philip approaches her …the last words of Rachel to Philip asking him as why he had done it tempts me to think more of her innocence. ..these are however my personal views..


        1. I was surprised half way through the book when it is stated Ambrose was only in his 40s so not that old. Philip at times seems so stupid! Yes marry her but sign over everything to her! Ending was strange on different levels, why would Rachel have just happened to walk on that bridge at that time, why would builders leave unsafe, why would builders tell Philip not Rachel. Why if Philip knowingly planned her demise, would he do it before searching for the evidence?


“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ― James A. Michener

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