Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Daphne DuMaurier

If I had to name my favorite author, it might be Daphne DuMaurier. 

I first read her most popular novel, Rebecca, in high school. It's one of my mom's favorite books. Rebecca follows a nameless young woman who falls in love with a much older, very wealthy, widower named Maxim. As newlyweds the couple returns to Maxim's family home in Cornwall. At first they are happy, but the heroine is haunted by the presence of Maxim's first wife, Rebecca. It seems that she can never live up to her legacy.

Rebecca is easy to read and spooky, without being scary.  I also love the movie, which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and won the Oscar for best picture in 1940. It stars Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier. 

After enjoying Rebecca so much, I decided to check out some of DuMaurier's other books. I breezed right through every DuMaurier book that the Sweetwater Library had. Including: The Scapegoat, The House on the Strand, and My Cousin Rachel. They are all very original and eerie. 

Later in college I read The King's General, which is nonfiction, and Jamaica Inn. The later became my favorite of her works. 

Jamaica Inn takes place on the Bodmin Moor in Cornwall (DuMaurier loved Cornwall and lived there much of her life. Many of her books take place there) in 1820. The story follows a young woman named Mary who loses her mother and is forced to leave home to live with an aunt that she barely knows. She discovers that her aunt has married and her husband is landlord of a very secluded coaching house called Jamaica Inn. Mary learns on arrival that her uncle is a dangerous, violent man and that secrets lurk around every corner of Jamaica Inn. 

The unusual twists and turns of this book seem to surprise me every time I read it!

*Note: Jamaica Inn is a real place that Daphne DuMaurier really visited and based the book on. The story goes that she got lost on horseback in the mist of the moors and wound up at Jamaica Inn. It is still a functioning inn and museum. I would love to go visit someday!

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