Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jamaica Inn

by Daphne DuMaurier

I listened to this on CD, rather than reading it as I normally would have, and I have to say it is a whole different experience. For one thing, speaking is much slower than silent reading, so I had a lot of chances to think over the story as it progressed. Little details of the writing also made more of an impression than they might have otherwise. This story is packed with dramatic tension, but no matter how much I wanted to find out what would happen next, the reading continued at its own steady pace. This particular reading was very expressive, with lots of accents and voices that I enjoyed for the most part.

Well, based on this book and Rebecca I would characterize the books of Daphne DuMaurier as follows: A young, plucky, but self-effacing young woman is alone in the world (immediate family all dead). She falls in love with a dark, brooding, damaged but still forceful man in whose presence she melts. Despite her general competency and common sense, she totally misreads the people around her (grossly underestimating the feelings she has aroused in the dark and dominating man). There is a big, destructive crisis following which she and her man strike out for parts unknown and the adventure of the open road.

I suppose it sounds like I didn't like this book, but actually I did, even though the gender stereotypes in the romance don't read that well in this day and age. Interestingly, despite frequent references to the story's placement in the 20th century, there is not an automobile in sight. The heroine is constantly walking long distances across the moors, occasionally being rescued by someone passing by in a carriage or on horseback when she ends up too far from home late at night or in inclement weather. The plot revolves around some particularly heinous smuggling, but the scenes involving the outlaws and their dastardly deeds are well written, and the descriptions are vivid and compelling.

And in what may seem like a total non-sequiteur, one thing I learned while listening to this story is that I really should not knit while lying flat on my back. It's doable, but the end result is not all that one could desire.



Blogger Vivian said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I added it to my queue at the library.

Knitting on your back supposed to strengthen your arm and shoulders, but it never worked for me.

1:05 PM  

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