My Cousin Rachel, Hardback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


I threw the piece of paper on the fire. She saw it burn ...Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries - and there he dies suddenly.

In almost no time at all, the new widow - Philip's cousin Rachel - turns up in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious woman like a moth to the flame. And yet ...might she have had a hand in Ambrose's death?




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Philip Ashley has always looked up to his older cousin Ambrose as almost a God figure. Ambrose, haven taken in his orphaned cousin when he was just a toddler, has raised him in his image in a male-only environment, where the company of women was only tolerated when absolutely necessary. Having no other dependents, Ambrose has long ago decided Philip is to be his heir. The two have almost never been apart, save when Philip went to school and university, but when he returns home the older cousin must travel to warmer climes for health reasons, and it is decided Philip must stay behind in Cornwall to look after the estate. While away in Florence, the impossible happens, Ambrose meets a woman, half English, half Italian and a distant relation and falls in love with her, and shortly after, marries her. But things quickly take a dramatic turn, and within eighteen months, Ambrose's health has suffered a terrible decline and his letters are more and more frenzied, even accusing his wife of poisoning him. Philip hurries off to Italy at Ambrose's request, but arrives there too late, Ambrose has just been burried and his cousin, Ambrose's wife Rachel, has packed all his things and left her villa and gone no one knows where. Discouraged and in deep grief, Philiip returns to Cornwall and to the estate he will come to inherit soon, on his 25th birthday. He has vowed to take his revenge upon Rachel, whom he imagines to be a horrid old crone. Until Rachel arrives in England, and Philip feels compelled to invite her to stay over so he can exact his revenge upon her. Of course, he could not have expected he would fall in love with Rachel too, petite and unassuming, despite his terrible suspicions. And after all, it doesn't seem quite right that Ambrose hasn't made any provisions for her in his last will and testament. This was a terrific page-turner and I felt compelled to read on to discover who this enigma that is Rachel really is. Is she an angel or a devil? Is she a little bit of both? Is she loving or calculating? Is she playing games? And what are Philip's real motives? Is he really Ambrose's clone as everyone else seems to think he is? This novel has all the suspense and taut atmosphere I loved in Rebecca, to which it has been compared to, only here we have a living woman to puzzle over as opposed to a mere ghost. All the same, she is impossible to pin down. My rating (just under 4 stars, which the LT system doesn't allow for) perhaps doesn't reflect just how much enjoyment I got out of this reading experience, and perhaps leans a bit too much on the disappointment I felt with the ending, which left many questions unanswered. But as I think it over, I wonder if this doesn't on the contrary add to the charm the book operates on the reader, who might feel compelled to return to it time and time again to try work out a little bit more of the riddle that is Rachel, as is sure to be the case with me.

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