Fiction, gothic romance, Historical Romance, Romance

Number 15: A Five-Syllable Title

My Cousin Rachel

By Daphne du Maurier

When I picked up this novel in the early days of 2020, my impression was “wow, this book seemed right up my alley: gothic romance, brooding heroes, moral ambiguity. What’s not to love?”

Perhaps she was two persons, torn in two, first one having way and then the other.

And love it I did, right up until March of 2020, when I was about a third of the way done. At this point in time, I was working long hours in a cubicle at my corporate job and living in a wonderfully creepy cabin down a dirt road in the country. It was a perfect setting for a slow read full of meditations on good and evil, love and betrayal.

But then the pandemic forced us into our homes for over a year, and I traded the cabin in the country for an apartment in the city, and the idea of life on a manor suddenly seemed too claustrophobic for my tastes.

So I put it down and did not pick it up again until I decided to do this challenge. To give myself a head start on reading two books a week for the next six months, I cheated a little (shhhhh), and decided to go with a book I already started.

Once again, this book did not resonate with me.

My tutor… told us once that truth was something intangible, unseen, which sometimes we stumbled upon and did not recognise…

In all likelihood, it just has not aged well. When My Cousin Rachel was written, people had longer attention spans, and the anti-hero was a less common trope. This book has phenomenal writing, but what made it unique at the time has been done countless times since then. Overall it was a good read, but it felt too familiar to be groundbreaking.

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