3* (out of 5*)

My Cousin Rachel - Daphne Du Maurier

Rebecca was the first of Du Maurier’s books I read and I absolutely love and adore it.

Then I read The King’s General and found myself quickly drawn into the 17th century Cornish setting and the personal and political conflicts imposed on the Cornish protagonists by the English Civil War. I have never been particularly interested in that part of history but Du Maurier’s story made it come alive.

Having now finished the third book in my quest to read more by the author, I am not sure: I’m not disappointed by the book – even though as a story it is nowhere near as compelling as TKG and its characters are less colourful than Rebecca’s.

What irks me about the story, tho, is that I could not find my way into the setting or time of the story – I literally have no idea in what age the story is set, even though I must have read it somewhere along the way…

What I loved about the story – and the reason why I gave it 3 stars (as in “I liked it”) – was the ambiguity of the characters. It reminded me of the old question of what comes first – Character or Action, and the premise that actions are the character. What I mean is that the descriptions of characters given by other characters in the book were unreliable and it seemed to me that you had to read on to see what a character would actually do to find out whether they were good, bad, stupid, devious, etc.

If this is your first attempt at Du Maurier, I’d recommend you don’t judge her other books by this one – persist and read another one of her works – Rebecca for instance is quite different…