Philip´s uncle Ambrose has died while being on an extensive stay in Italy. Philip can´t believe that his uncle has died of natural causes. He much rather believes that his cousin Rachel, who recently married Ambrose, has caused the death of his beloved uncle and revenge is on his mind.
It´s been a few days since I finished this book and I still don´t know, what I can say about it without giving to much away when it comes to the story. It´s one of these books that leaves you in that place, where you don´t get a clearcut answer to all of your questions and you can interpret the ending in a multitude of ways, depending on where your sympathies lies in regard to the characters. Has Ambrose been murdered or not? Is Rachel innocent or guilty? Can I believe everything the first person narrator, Philip, thinks or says?
I really enjoyed reading My Cousin Rachel and I was hooked from beginning to end. Du Maurier is the master of creating atmosphere with the mere use of words, whether it being a description of a hot evening in Florence:
When we came into the city we lost the cooler air of the surrounding hills, and it was hot once more. Not like the daytime, burning and dusty white, but the flat stale heat of evening, buried too many hours in the walls and roofs of houses.
Or Philip´s initial fantasies about his Cousin Rachel:
Since my journey to the villa she had become a monster, larger than life itself. Her eyes were black as sloes, her features aquiline like Rainaldi´s, and she moved about those musty villa rooms sinuous and silent, like a snake.
I had some minor issues with Philip, simply because he at times was too emotional for my taste and he annoyed me a little bit throughout the book. But this is a minor gripe and I can highly recommend My Cousin Rachel. But beware, this book is going to mess with your brain.