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Author: Daphne Du Maurier
The story of a deadly curse that afflicted an Irish family for a hundred years. — "I tell you your mine will be in ruins and your home destroyed and your children forgotten... but this hill will be standing still to confound you." So curses Morty Donovan when Copper John Brodrick builds his mine at Hungry Hill. — The Brodricks of Clonmere gain great wealth by harnessing the power of Hungry Hill and extracting the treasure it holds. The Donovans, the original owners of Clonmere Castle, resent the Brodricks' success, and consider the great house and its surrounding land theirs by rights. For generations the feud between the families has simmered, always threatening to break into violence....
Hungry Hill is a novel by prolific British author Daphne du Maurier, published in 1943. It was her seventh novel. There have been 33 editions of the book printed.
This family saga is based on the history of the Irish ancestors of Daphne du Maurier’s friend Christopher Puxley. The family resembles the Puxleys who owned mines in Allihies, a parish in County Cork.
The story spans the century from 1820 to 1920 following five male characters from a family of Anglo-Irish landowners, the Brodricks, who live in a castle called Clonmere. It is divided into five sub-books and an epilogue. Each section covers part of the life of an heir. The sections include: Book One: Copper John, 1820 - 1828; Book Two: Greyhound John, 1828 - 1837; Book Three: "Wild Johnnie," 1837 - 1858; Book Four: Henry, 1858 - 1874; Book Five: Hal, 1874 - 1895; Epilogue: The Inheritance, 1920;
The title sometimes is thought to refer to Hungry Hill which is the highest peak in the Caha Mountains in County Cork, and du Maurier's description of the Hungry Hill is similar to the physical aspects of that place. Rather than simply referring to the hill, however, the title alludes to the curse put on the family by Morty Donovan, arch enemy of patriarch Copper John Brodrick, at the start of the novel, and the fact that the mines seem to "swallow up" the lives of the Brodrick family through five generations, by early death, dissipation and unhappiness.
Many of the place names in the novel are imaginary, and the location is never directly stated to be Ireland, although it can be inferred from several references to "crossing the water" to reach to London, Hal's embarkation from Liverpool en route to Canada, and, in the Epilogue, the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921). However, the description of the Brodricks' mansion reportedly was based on the Puxleys' mansion in Carmarthenshire, South Wales.
Overall, this book really had a feeling of melancholia throughout with pending doom coming to the family. I didn't enjoy this as much as some other du Maurier's I have read like House on the Strand but I would still recommend it and I'll definitely be reading more of her novels.
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Later: Very melancholy here, though there are notes of hope. The political and social tensions drive much of the plot, though the focus is on the characters. I liked the way the family lines of the Brodericks and the Donovans, although the nature of the story and its generational time-skips left me wanting to know more about some of the secondary characters. But the main characters did have their moments, and I especially enjoyed some of the grace notes - such as Henry revealing what became of the miniature of his late wife that his son Hal had given him decades before...
The book was adapted to the screen in this 1947 film.
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