Reading Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘My Cousin Rachel’
I think I know why Alfred Hitchcock chose Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds to make into a movie. It must be something in her writing, in her ability to create a literary fog. Reading Daphne Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel while on holiday in Ireland has only made the whole idea of the fog feel even more true.
It was a happy coincidence that I chose to read this book while in Ireland. I hiked in parts of The Ring Of Kerry and climbed The Cliffs of Moher in blinding fog. I always say that my head is in the clouds but in Ireland with all that fog, it had never been this true.
The same type of fog is found in this book. My Cousin Rachel is incredibly haunting because when you read it, you are never quite sure of who you should side with. Who is the victim here? Who is the murderer? The first book I read by Du Maurier was Rebecca when I was fourteen years old and now, after reading My Cousin Rachel I want to read everything else by Du Maurier.
So why should you also give Du Maurier a chance? Well, let’s make it clear. This writer doesn’t need you to remember her for her books to be immortal. Her women already are. Rebecca, Rachel, these women, veiled in black shadows, are here to give you the chance to meet them, not the other way around.
I would love if you too could meet Rachel though. Mainly, because in Du Maurier’s book there is that haunting element which makes it difficult to let go of the book for even a second. There is that gothic element, that literary fog.
It’s because Rachel can hold a power over you with a smile. She can make you feel dizzy when you watch her playing with the wedding band on her finger and she will lure you right under the black veil over her face.
And death — death is always there with every Du Maurier novel. Death which doesn’t give us the answers we desperately want and so we obsess over everything that we consume in her books, just as Philip Ashley obsesses over the death of his cousin Ambrose in this novel.
Have I rambled enough about how much I loved My Cousin Rachel? I hope I have done enough to invite to read this book. If you have already, then tell me your reasons why you loved reading it. Oh, and in case you want to binge on Du Maurier with me, I will be reading more books by her and writing about them here, including Jamaica Inn, The Birds and other short stories of hers.
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