I was away from LXF Towers last week, which gave me the opportunity to read some pulp fiction. When I had finished with Mike's HotPicks, I did some proper reading too, including Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn. One of my friends gave me the Laurence Olivier film version of Rebecca (geddit?) once and I managed about three minutes of it before their RP English gave me a headache, but the books rock hard, and this was no exception. I actually read Jamaica Inn when I was about nine, but not knowing what rum, wrecking or 'I blushed at his stirring maleness" (or some such) meant, I didn't really get it.
This time I thought it was ace. If you don't know the story, it's the start of the nineteenth century, and our orphaned heroine (23 years old – shouldn't she be married with seven children or something?) goes to live with her grisly uncle in Cornwall, and finds out he is running a smuggling racket, using his isolated, moor-perched pub to store the goods. Disappointingly, at no point does anyone go to Jamaica. The description of the inn reminded me of some of the places I used to drink at in New Cross, southeast London, but that's for another time.
Our heroine is rather plucky, if a trifle too trusting of spectral clergymen, and the book ends on the moors with our heroine fleeing huge dogs and escaping to Stonehenge. Wait, that's Tess of the Baskervilles. Well, I won't give away the ending, but it's jolly good. Books need more female leads in my opinion (there used to be loads of them, but these days it's all male Harvard symbologists and boy wizards) – they're just as good at detecting as men, and wear better shoes. It's a shame there aren't more women in Linux too (*cymbal crash*) – the open source world is surprisingly male dominated and it seems a shame to me that a movement with an 'open to all' philosophy doesn't do better at attracting female contributors. Perhaps we should set up a Mark Shuttleworth-sponsored academy for orphaned girls and school them in the way of Linux before sending them out on assignment to visit backward companies in the middle of nowhere and miles from broadband access, and persuade them to stop the wicked act of software piracy and convert to open source instead.