Saturday, May 22, 2010
My Cousin Rachel - Read the Book/See the Movie
"She has done for me at last. Rachel, my torment."
Did she or didn't she? This is the question that haunts the story of My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. In beautiful prose, Daphne du Maurier spins a tale of jealousy, unrequited love, obsession and murder. Philip Ashley, orphaned at a young age is raised by his much older cousin, Ambrose. Philip is groomed to be the heir to Ambrose's magnificent property in Cornwall. When Ambrose spends time in Italy due to illness, he suddenly meets and marries his cousin Rachel.
"He was like someone sleeping who woke suddenly and found the world...all the beauty of it, and the sadness too. The hunger and the thirst. Everything he had never thought about or known was there before him, and magnified into one person who by chance, or fate--call it what you will--happened to be me." (Rachel recounting how Ambrose fell in love with her)
Months later, Philip receives mysterious letters from Ambrose hinting that all is not well in his new marriage. When Ambrose mysteriously dies and cousin Rachel comes for a long visit, Philip is at first suspicious of his cousin till he falls hopelessly in love with her.
Was Rachel innocent or guilty of murdering Ambrose? The question is not really answered and the reader is left to make up his or her own mind. But whatever the answer, the tension in the book is so intense as we wonder about the truth and squirm as our hero falls further into what we believe is the enemy's trap. As I turned page after page, I was dreading what would happen next.
After reading the book, I saw the film My Cousin Rachel (1952) as part of the Read the Book/See the Movie Challenge hosted by C.B. James. The movie stars a very young Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland. It received four Oscar nominations including ones for Best Actor and Best Cinematography. A good film though dated in parts. Here are some pictures.
Do check out Cornflower's blog for more on the book My Cousin Rachel.