My Cousin Rachel // From page to screen

Hello beautiful people!

I’ve been thinking for a while about new content for this little blog and I realised that I truly wanted to talk about book adaptations, especially when it comes to classics because a) I love period dramas b) I think adaptations are a great way to keep you motivated when you’re reading a classic and it’s a little dense. This new feature is called “from page to screen”, because my blog name is ofwishesandpages, it was absolutely fitting. 

Anyhow, I wanted to start this series of posts by talking about My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier, for the movie was recently released.

What is My Cousin Rachel about?

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. Jealous of his marriage, racked by suspicion at the hints in Ambrose’s letters, and grief-stricken by his death, Philip prepares to meet his cousin’s widow with hatred in his heart. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious Rachel like a moth to the flame. And yet… might she have had a hand in Ambrose’s death?

My thoughts

In My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier creates a gothic atmosphere filled with tension and anticipation, for it takes the first half of the book for the reader to finally meet Rachel. Despite her physical absence, she’s everywhere, a mighty being the reader can’t help but try to picture, until she ends up being human. This novel is gripping and keeps the reader on the edge of his seat, for he wants to know the truth behind all the deceptions. While the characters are deeply flawed, you can’t help but emphasize with every single one of them in turn and that is the genius behind the novel. You have to think for yourself, because du Maurier doesn’t hand the truth to you on a silver platter: it’s up to the reader to make his interpretation.

When it comes to the movie that was released this year, I thought that it was such an amazing adaptation of the novel. The atmosphere created there reflected the book so well, with the music filled with tension and a spectacular scenery. It was so Daphne du Maurier when they were in Cornwall, I was speechless. I thought it went a little fast in the beginning, as it is a short movie and we don’t have the luxury to wait for Rachel for a long time. Because of that, Philip’s obsession with her and how he tried to picture her was a little lost on me because I kept comparing it to the book and I’m not sure it was seen the same way by an audience which hadn’t read the book. Nevertheless, it made more sense to do it that way, I’m just a little bitter because I wanted to see Florence more, but as I recognized all the places they showed, I was quite pleased.

The main actors of the movie did an amazing job of carrying it on their shoulders. I love Sam Claflin and was very excited to see him play Philip and I thought that he did a very good job, he acted Philip’s obsession and infatuation with Rachel so realistically, while Rachel Weisz portrayed a clever, manipulative and frightening Rachel. Their relationship jumped back and forth, made the audience doubt of Rachel’s feelings and it was so well-done. Secondary actors, I’m thinking about Holliday Grainger (Louise Kendall) and Iain Glen (Nick Kendall), also delivered a very good performance, but Rachel Weisz obviously was the real star of the movie. Moreover, can we talk about who they cast as Ambrose? They are so clever.

The movie was very good at creating doubt in the mind of its audience. Several times, it was asked: “did she, didn’t she?”, to remind us that there wasn’t only one solution. I actually liked that one interpretation hinted in the book was made a little clearer here, especially at the end of the movie, because you leave the movie thinking about it. 

Overall, My Cousin Rachel is one of my favourite books of the year and its adaptation was very good at recreating du Maurier’s atmosphere as well as the doubt. I’m not sure how it stands for itself when you haven’t read
the book though, but it made me want to read all of Daphne du Maurier’s books, even more than before.

Have you read My Cousin Rachel? Seen the adaptation?

Lots of love,


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