Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier

This is the story of Mary Yellan, 23 and orphaned she goes to live with her Aunt Patience who she remembers to be full of life and her new husband Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn on the Bodmin Moor.  What Mary finds when she gets there is something she could never believed. Patience is nothing like the aunt she remembers in fact Patience is a mere shadow of herself, someone who stands behind her husband the larger than life Joss Merlyn who runs Jamaica Inn. Joss though is a large presence in life, in everyone’s face, in business that is not legal, in fact for me he was what made Jamaica Inn large on the landscape of Bodmin Moor.

Mary knows something goes on at the Inn, she is alerted to that fact immediately by the coach reluctantly stopping there, her uncle reiterates that point by telling her that she will sleep with a pillow over head so as to not hear what goes on. Mary vows to seek justice for such a life, where she knows this is not the place for her and thus rescue her aunt and move to a less desolate landscape and prospects.

Upon discovery of the ‘real’ use of the inn, smuggling, Mary is thrown into another world where she fights for survival. The landscape is against her, her uncle is against her and she also discovers that her heart is against her. What path will she chose to take?

If you have not read this book, then I think you have missed out on some excellent writing and an atmospheric novel that made me feel quite bleak in its telling, but so tenacious that I had to keep reading, I wanted to know what happened. The history of the actual Jamaica Inn, which still exists today and the history of smuggling which did go on made for me the story all the more interesting.  I could feel the darkness of Jamaica Inn, I could smell what Mary could smell and I felt the driving rain seeping into my bones as she goes about the surrounding moors, searching for something. The violent actions of the characters, the landscape and the criminals are very descriptive and it draws the reader in.

Whether Mary finds what she is searching for or not I think is up to the reader to draw their own conclusions by the end of the novel. I approached Rebecca in the same way. I think du Maurier has a skill in leading the reader through such a tightly twisted and dark story, that perhaps each reader draws different conclusions. Is this a gothic novel, is it a mystery, is it a romance or is it all three? To be honest it does not matter it is a du Maurier.

There are some wonderfully descriptive passages within this book, that with a review (posted on Amazon) it is sometimes too easy to just regurgitate the book for everyone to read. I think this is why I love being able to post my reviews on my blog and then ‘add’ a bit more to it. 

“It doesn’t do to be curious at Jamaica Inn, and I’ll have you remember that” (Uncle Joss Merlyn to Mary)

As soon as someone says do not be curious about what goes on, we all want to know what is going on and this line early in the book does this to Mary (and us as readers). She wants to know about Jamaica Inn and why a once loved place and stop for coaches has suddenly become the place to be feared. 

I confess there was another quote I wanted to share, and foolishly thought I would remember the page number and did not write it down. I should have written it down! I can imagine rereading this book, and will certainly share more passages. 

However I have enjoyed my time with Daphne du Maurier, and having only read Rebecca wanting to read some more was important. My mum has many if not all of her books at home and I have picked My Cousin Rachel next to read. 

As a little advert for a fellow blogger in October 2011, Simon of Savidge Reads and Polly of Novel Insights are hosting a Discovering Daphne Season, if you have the time pop over and have a look.