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Four good reasons why this gothic romance should be on your reading list

•Daphne du Maurier wrote a cracking villain. Jamaica Inn is the story of 23-year-old Mary Yellan who, after her mother’s death, is sent to live with her aunt Patience and her husband Joss Merlyn. Joss is the ill-tempered, drunken landlord of Jamaica Inn, he’s almost 7ft tall and Mary soon realises how dangerous he really is.

•Bad weather features heavily. It’s always raining. And windy. And misty. And the sky is always a brooding granite colour. Mary does a lot of Brontë-esque striding across the rain-lashed Bodmin Moor in long skirts for hours on end, swooning and tripping up into boggy ditches.

•The dialogue is equally dramatic. “I’m not drunk enough to tell you why I live in this God-forgotten spot, and why I’m the landlord of Jamaica Inn,” yells Joss to Mary at one point. It’s this desire to know that keeps you turning the pages long into the night when you should be asleep.

•Mary and Jem. Central to the plot are Mary’s romantic feelings towards Joss’s younger, less brutal brother Jem. On the one hand you kind of root for them but on the other, you know that their relationship is doomed and that Mary will never be truly happy with him.

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (Virago, £12.99)


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