About the Author
Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) was an English author and playwright. Her work was not critically well received when during her life time, but in recent years has earned respect. She is best known for her novel Rebecca which in the US won the National Book Award. The book was later adapted into a film as was her novel Jamaica Inn and short story "The Birds".
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"I have the silver, you have the land". Du Maurier recounts the lives of several generations of the Brodrick family, landholders in Dunhaven Ireland starting in 1820 when "Copper John" Brodrick cements a deal to start a copper mine at the base of Hungry Hill. John's main priorities are the business and its profits, with little concern for the day to day welfare of the miners and their families - enflaming a long-standing family grudge that leads to a curse on the Brodrick family. The story of the family continues with subsequent generations as Copper John's sons and his grandsons battle to maintain the mines and the family fortune with the fluctuating price of copper and tin, along with their own personal and mental battles. The story finally culminates in 1920 as the last of the line John-Henry returns from the Great War in 1920 to reclaim the family estate and finds himself unwittingly involved in the Irish rebellion with unexpected consequences to him and the family home Clonmere. Overall, this was quite a good read despite a stereotyped character or two (it was written in the 1940's) and a storyline a bit on the predictable side. While it might not appeal as much to those readers used to Du Maurier's usual fare, i.e. Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, her writing is superb and understated as always and IMO raises this from a three to a four star read as the reader sees the viewpoint of both the Landholder and the difficulties of the Irish tenants. Still tops with me in multi-generational family sagas is Susan Howatch's Cashelmara- don't miss it.
HUNGRY HILL is the name of a mountain full in 1820 of hitherto untapped but profitably mined copper and tin ores. It is located on the southern coast of (never named) Ireland. For centuries Hungry Hill had lain undisturbed within the domain of a Catholic landed gentry family the Donovans. In 1820 Hungry Hill and surrounding lands was, however, in the hands of the Brodricks, Protestant newcomers (i.e. since the late 1500s under Queen Elizabeth!) from England. Until more than 80 years earlier the Brodricks had been slowly rising into an educated minuscule lower middle class of Anglo-Irish clerks in neighboring counting houses. But they rose suddenly to power in the days of the grandfather of "Copper John" Brodrick, the novel's first hero in a century stretching from 1820 - 1920. *** Five years after the mine opens, clan chief Monte Donovan prays heaven for vengeance on those who have usurped his lands and dug copper without permission of either Hungry Hill or of the fairies who protect its wealth: "I have cursed your father tonight, and your brother, and now I curse you, John Brodrick ... and not only you, but your sons after you, and your grandsons, and may your wealth bring them nothing but despair and desolation and evil, until the last of them stands humble and ashamed amongst the ruins of it, with the Donovans back again in Clonmere on the land that belongs to them" (p. 54). *** Shortly, Copper John Brodrick, assisted by his two sons Henry and John, will have taken such decisive punitive action against the Donovans that the Brodericks in contempt pay no attention in following generations to the curse and dismiss the Donovans as cowardly, lazy, unprogressive good-for-nothings. The rest of Daphne du Maurier's 1943 novel HUNGRY HILL probes whether the lordly, detached, self-superior Brodricks were well-advised to ignore those little nobodies. Now and then more or less random encounters between representatives of the two families suggest that at some point the land's original owners just might make that curse ring true. Please read HUNGRY HILL for yourself and see for yourself how things turn out! -OOO-