This book has a pair of absolutely fantastic beginning sentences! Some of the best I have ever read:
It was a cold gray day in late November. The weather had changed overnight, when a backing wind brought a granite sky and a mizzling rain with it, and although it was now only a little after two o’clock in the afternoon the pallor of a winter evening seemed to have closed upon the hills, cloaking them in mist.
How is that for scene setting? When the book begins, our heroine, Mary Yellin, is traveling along in a darkened coach, headed to Jamaica Inn. Du Maurier plunges us directly into the story, taking place under that "granite" sky.
I live in Oregon. I know a mizzling rain when I read about one!
This book walks right up to the edge of horror, and steps back into the category of suspense.
"Respectable folk don’t go to Jamaica anymore. That’s all I know. In the old days we used to water the horses there, and feed them, and go in for a bit of a bite and drink. But we don’t stop there anymore. We whip the horses past and wait for nothing, not till we get to Five Lanes, and then we don’t bide long.”
“Why don’t folk go there? What is their reason?” Mary persisted.
The man hesitated; it was as though he were searching for words. “They’re afraid,” he said at last; and then he shook his head; he would say no more."
I read through chapter 5. Mary has just met Jem, brother of Joss Merlyn - the primary antagonist - who seems likely to be the love interest, although the first meeting demonstrated precious little reason for a woman to fall in love with him.
"Mary watched the little stinging rain blur the glass of the parlor window, and as she sat there, alone, with her chin in her hand, the tears ran down her cheeks in company with the rain. She let them fall, too indifferent to wipe them away, while the draft from the door she had forgotten to close ruffled a long torn strip of paper on the wall. There had once been a rose pattern, but it was now faded and gray, and the walls themselves were stained deep brown where the damp had turned them. Mary turned away from the window; and the cold, dead atmosphere of Jamaica Inn closed in upon her."
At this point, I finally had to shut down the kindle for the night, and go to sleep.