It was the early Nineties, and it was our first trip to the British Club. No, we were neither members nor British nationals, but gained access through our visit to Mr. William, and his warm and friendly wife, Mrs. Cecil. The lovely couple were given a modest accommodation of a room and a pantry at the far end of the club, and in turn were in charge and looked into the management of the large premises. They were happy to show us around, and took my Dad to the pub for some chilled beer, while the lady showed my Mom the expanse of the library. It was the only time that I remember my mother gasping at the vastness of the book spread – an entire wall of racks from floor to ceiling, filled with some of the most enviable titles, beautifully arranged for avid club readers.
“And you have Daphne du Maurier!”, Mom grinned with teeth, as she took a closer look at the collection of novels.
“Er…yes,” Mrs. Cecil only smiled in reply, so I didn’t quite think she was a reader; nevertheless she benevolently pressed my mom into borrowing whichever books she wished to read.
My Mom happily obliged. I do not remember the rest of the evening, except having eaten some spicy food, and babysitting my toddler sister who was all too happy running across the large halls and coridoors, ocassionally tripping over the polished marble.
Several years later I came across this author, and looked up film adaptations of her books, to find several bestsellers, My Cousin Rachel being the most recently filmed amongst them. Though the author has been marred by controversy (plagiarism), her books are entertaining for those seeking mystery, thrill and suspense.
My Cousin Rachel – starring Rachel Weisz in the titular role, enchants her way into the hearts of two unfortunate cousins – Ambrose and Philip, both played by Sam Caflin in a double role. A short flashback through letters, reveal that she was the widow of Ambrose, first cousin to Philip, whom the former raised as his own son. Having never married throughout Philip’s upbringing, he thus raised eyebrows when he writes about his wedding to his lovely distant cousin Rachel, during one of his sojourns to Italy. Soon however, the fluttering butterflies were replaced by fear and suspicion as Ambrose begins to doubt poisoning in the hands of his deceptive wife, as expressed through his letters. His last correspondence, was an encrypted appeal for help. Rushing thus to Italy, Philip is enraged to find his beloved cousin dead and buried, and the widow having left to meet him in England. The surprise factor, (and I cringed with embarassment over this) was the part when Philip too, is completely besotted over the woman upon barely receiving her acquaintance, and endows her with the entire inheritance due to him from Ambrose. No sooner as this happens, does Philip experience similar symptoms of the sickness Ambrose encountered, and his suspicions are aroused. Additionally, he finds more clues and encrypted notes of her past behaviour and is now determined to rid her. As he sends her riding away on horseback to a place notorious for fatalities, he realises that she could be innocent, and none of the evidence gathered implies any wrongdoing. Even the family jewels bestowed upon her during the height of his infatuation, were duly returned to it’s rightful caretaker. Both movie and book end ambigously, allowing for some inconclusive suspense over the character’s guilt or innocence.
Apart from the disconcerting fact that a man who sought retribution for his deceased cousin, is ensnared in the same fashion as his predecessor, watch the film for brilliant performances by all actors and generous doses of suspense and mystery till the end.
It is easy to form an opinion and even easier to reach a conclusion when that opinion does not deliver the desired result. When the world tells us that we need to trust our instinct, I’d say trust the pattern – of loyalty, personality and responses. If there’s anything that’s inevitable in this world – it’s change, and patterns are the only way to resonate with such changes. People, friendships and even the love of your life are not immune to change. But what needs to be seen is the undying loyalty, love or even the silent resilience, much after the change is undergone. Read that again.