Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier


Addition: Paperback
Genre: Gothic fiction
Published: 1935
Rating: 4 out of 5

Her mother’s dying request takes Mary Yellan on a sad journey across the bleak moorland of Cornwall to reach Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. With the coachman’s warning echoing in her memory, Mary arrives at a dismal place to find Patience a changed woman, cowering from her overbearing husband, Joss Merlyn.

Affected by the Inn’s brooding power, Mary is thwarted in her attention to reform her aunt, and unwillingly drawn into the dark deeds of Joss and his accomplices. And, as she struggles with events beyond her control, Mary is further thrown by her feelings for a man she dare not trust….

This is the second Daphne du Maurier book I have read, back in 2008 I read and enjoyed Rebecca. I was inspired to read Jamaica Inn because a few months ago the BBC made it into a mini-series, and I thought I would read the book before I watched the show.

The story is based around Mary. She is sent to live with her Aunt Patience and her husband Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn, after the death of her mother. The inn is not at all what she expected – and neither are Patience and Joss. There are dark and mysterious goings-on at Jamaica Inn, and everyone in the surrounding area gives it a wide berth. Joss seems to be the ring leader in some awful gang, and Patience has just turned away and become fearful and weak. Mary is not like that, and her curiosity draws her into what Joss is caught up in, with potentially deadly consequences.

This book almost immediately reminded me of Wuthering Heights. Set out on the Cornish moors, there is fear and darkness. Joss is like Heathcliff, unpredictable and not particularly nice. Although written in the 1930s, this book has all the feelings of a gothic novel – death, fear, the supernatural, love and the unknown. I was drawn in immediately, and all I can say is this is a very good book!

I liked Mary. She was courageous and strong. She had a good sense of right and wrong, and I liked her adventurous spirit. She seemed fearless and I loved how much she wanted to save her Aunt. Her Aunt however did annoy me! She was so weak and pathetic. I really wanted to tell her to pull herself together. I thought Joss was very well-written. I didn’t like him, but he was a great character.

What pleased me most about this book is guessed the baddie! That never happens! I kept saying to my Mum, “I don’t trust…” She wouldn’t comment, but it was satisfying to be right! This was a great read – full of danger and suspense. I was hooked from the beginning. My only complaint was that the book didn’t read fast enough for my liking! This novel has it all – death, suspicion, fear, danger and love. The prose are wonderful, and the descriptions of the moors are beautiful.

This is a great book and if you love classics like Wuthering Heights, you will love this book. It has made me want to re-read Rebecca, and read more of du Maurier’s novels (good thing my Mum owns them!) This was a brilliant read, and I rate it 4 out of 5.

In case you are interested, the inn, Jamaica Inn, does exist! du Maurier based the novel on the place, but her story is entirely fictional. You can find out more about Jamaica Inn here.

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