Reconsidering My Cousin Rachel
I know a Good Story / April 19, 2016

It’s funny how some writers go in and out of style. Some storytellers are flaming hot properties in one decade, and out of print in the next.  You never can tell who will outlast their lifetimes.  Taylor Caldwell, Edna Ferber and Thomas Chastain were royalty on the mid-century best-seller list, but I doubt if they’re remembered at all today beyond Ferber’s writing the source novel for Showboat.  Daphne du Maurier fares a little better because of Rebecca and because a biography suggesting she was a lesbian but beyond that and a couple of short stories that were adapted into films, her name doesn’t ring many bells.   That’s a shame because she was a prolific writer with more than thirty books to her credit and no one else created “mood” with words as well as she did.  If you think I’m thinking of Rebecca again, I’m not.  Her greatest “atmospheric” novel is, for me, My Cousin, Rachel. Rachel is a novel about the damage caused by doubt.  In the beginning, Ambrose Ashley and his nephew Philip are completely sure of their spots in the world.  Ambrose is the master of a Cornish estate and the guardian of Philip, his heir.  Their lives are bound by the…

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