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. 

8 thoughts on “Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurier

  1. Woo! I’m so glad that you’ve got back into Daphne – her books are amazing. My only caution is that, along with the two that you’ve read, Frenchman’s Creek and My cousin rachel, are definitely the best four, so you should spread them out amid some of her other books (which are still worth reading, just not quite as brlliant)

  2. I have never read this, although we used to pass the Jamaica Inn on our numerous visits to the Cornish coast (I wish we had stopped there).

  3. I absuletely loved Rebecca, and now I will definitely read this one too from what you’ve said about it! I especially like the idea that its based on a real inn. Like you said, that always makes books so much more interesting and real.

  4. I read this years ago and loved it. I remember it being very atmospheric, like most of du Maurier’s work. Your post has made me want to read it again! My Cousin Rachel is a great book too and I also really enjoyed The Scapegoat and The House on the Strand.

  5. I’ve read Jamaica Inn a few times now. I’ m really glad that you enjoyed it too. I read a blog recently and for some reason the blogger didn’t like it at all, it’s just as well we’re all different I suppose!
    I longed to get to Cornwall for years and made it there about ten years ago but when I saw Jamaica Inn I couldn’t go in because it looked so chocolate boxy with hanging baskets and flowers all over it. It just didn’t look like it should have looked, to me anyway!

  6. Weirdly enough, I found this hiding behind some other books on my parents’ bookshelves the other day. I haven’t read it, but I’ll certainly consider doing so now 🙂

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