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.

daphne du maurier book set

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.

Brown Willy on Bodmin Moor viewed on an autumn (November) afternoon

Bodmin Moor.