Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier (Virago paperback, £7.99)

I recently read this book and was surprised by its contemporary feel. The heroine Mary Yellan would fit well into many a novel written today. She is a young woman who finds herself unwilling to follow the conventional path set out for her. She begins life in a rural idyll and loves the farm she grows up on. Village life suits her, but when her mother dies, she is forced to fulfil her dying wish and go to live with her Aunt Patience.

Unfortunately the once vivacious Patience now lives a cowering existence under the shadow of her oppressively brutal husband Joss, and they live in a secluded part of Bodmin Moor, together running the foreboding Jamaica Inn.

So begins an exploration of this gothic landscape as Mary spends hours walking the land. We begin to learn that Jamaica Inn is a waystation for a particular type of customer and that more respectable travellers are urged to continue on their journeys.

Do not imagine this story romanticises piracy, however: the wreckers are seen as greedy, ruthless men who prey on innocent sailors. Mary is drawn to Jem, Joss’s brother, but for a long time we do not know whose side he is on: he is attractive both as a bad-boy and a potential hero.

The gothic atmosphere of the moors, the dark skulduggery lurking in the corners of the Inn, and our fear for the heroine and hope for her future all combine to make this a pacy read. I was so glad I read it and would now recommend it as a book worth revisiting and perfect for a summer holiday read.

Reviewed by Philippa Morris, Little Apple bookshop