Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #20: My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel, like Rebecca, is a gothic novel, and this one is set in some undetermined time in 19th century England – a time when people used carriages and horses to go into town, when a letter from a different country took over three weeks to arrive, and telegrams and trains don’t seem to exist or be in common usage yet. The narrator, 24 year old Philip, has been raised by his cousin Ambrose in a house without women. Ambrose was a bachelor for life, and didn’t need any women around with their desire for order and cleanliness, and as a result, I didn’t get the impression that Philip or Ambrose really understood them at all. Due to health issues, Ambrose spends most winters on the continent, until one winter he visits Florence to explore the gardens, where he meets Rachel. Philip only hears everything through letters, long delayed and occasionally sporadic, but Ambrose and Rachel get married, Ambrose extends his stay in Florence, and Philip feels jealous and neglected. Eventually two letters arrive from Ambrose, both odd, alluding to illness, and carrying a certain tone of paranoia regarding Rachel, calling her his torment, claiming that she is watching and monitoring him. Philip, being the loyal cousin that he is, races to Florence, only to discover that his cousin died three weeks previously, the letter only arriving after his departure, and Rachel has left the villa and the town.

To see what else happens, check out the rest of the review.