If you can’t trust the ground, what can you trust?
I have found my stack of Daphne Du Mauriers, and am re-reading them as an anti-dote to the Proust, Richardson, Dante and Melville I am ploughing through, as sometimes, just sometimes, I want something resembling a plot, where, OMG, actual stuff happens.
Du Maurier was one of the first classic authors I read. Proper literature, but the kind a teenager can understand, as unlike with so many other classics, there wasn’t the need to ask my mother/encyclopaedia/nearest elderly person what a phaeton was or where was Carthage on the map. Those were pre-internet days, kids today, eh? No idea.
I have started with Jamaica Inn, I love something with a plucky young girl in it, but most of all, I am drawn to anything where people can be sucked down into bogs/quicksand. It was the staple of so many films I grew up watching, people like Indiana Jones were permanently at risk of (almost) sinking. I suppose it fell out of fashion, just like people are rarely tied to railway tracks any more, either, and that was once a surprisingly common way to murder people according to films.
Joss Merlyn, principle baddie of Jamaica Inn, lost his brother to sinking marshes. He went off to be a sailor, and they all probably thought he was off having the time of his life, too busy to write, Then there was a drought for seven months, the water level sunk, and there he was, in a bog, with his arms set stiff above his head, a chilling vision of last-second flailing and reaching. He barely got out of sight of home That, to me, is the scariest part of the whole book. Watch where you’re walking, people.