So this to me is not a typical Daphne du Maurier novel. There are hints of some Gothic elements here and there with a curse being flung about. But other than that, du Maurier just follows along following five generations of the Brodrick family from 1820 to 1920 following five of the male characters from the Brodrick family. I have to say that from beginning to end the tale of “Hungry Hill” is going to grab you. And you start to wonder if a curse is really what is affecting certain members of the family or is it simply fate? I loved the writing, the character development, the setting, and ultimately the ending. It seems that in the end, the last male surviving member of that family has changed his family’s fate.
“Hungry Hill” starts off following a man that is named Cooper John (due to the cooper mine he opens up on Hungry Hill). Cooper John is a widower with two sons (Henry and John) and three daughters. Cooper John is focused on enlarging his family’s castle called Clonmere and having enough money left to take care of his children’s children. I don’t think that Cooper John was a bad man, but he is very black and white on things and he loves his children though he is often left confused and frustrated with his second eldest son, also named John. From there, du Maurier follows the rest of the family line and the book is broken up into parts. From Cooper John we follow Greyhound John, Wild Johnnie, Henry, Hal, and finally we go into the last book called The Inheritance.
I have to say that all of the sections were fascinating. I don’t think you will come away liking most of the people in this book, but you will love reading about them. I think my favorite book though had to be the one with Henry. My least favorite (as much as one was my least favorite) was the one with Hal. I don’t want to get into talking too much and spoiling things, but you have to wonder at times if only so and so happened this may have meant a different fate for the characters that follow. Except for the character of Greyhound John, I don’t think that any in the Brodrick family loved the land truly. And even then with him, he lost interest in it as soon as he finally gets the woman he has desired.
The Donovan family is another big piece of this book and we find out at the beginning of the book, Cooper John’s grandfather was shot in the back by a Donovan. And the Donovan’s of the present seem focused on ruining Cooper John and his family’s fortune. There seems to be parts superstition and just plain rage towards the Brodrick’s and I wonder if du Maurier contemplated showing their side of the story at all.
The writing was so good. I honestly felt sad when I got to the end. I would have loved to read on about this family past the 1920s. The flow was great too. From book to book it makes sense who we follow and why and I always loved books where I can follow characters through decades.
The setting of this book is Ireland in the late 1800s and the first World War. I have to say that it read as different to me than what I expected. I don’t know what I thought about Ireland back then, but I honestly didn’t know anything about cooper mines existing there.
The ending of the book though gives a glimmer that a new change is finally coming to the Brodrick clan and with that the end of the supposed curse.