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Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
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Jamaica Inn (1936)

by Daphne du Maurier

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,792853,024 (3.77)1 / 346
  1. 70
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (katie4098)
  2. 10
    The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier (sturlington)
  3. 10
    Falling Creatures by Katherine Stansfield (Becchanalia)
  4. 10
    Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming (Sylak)
    Sylak: Another story involving a complex central character worth a good read.
  5. 10
    To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway (Sylak)
    Sylak: Another story involving themes of smuggling and alcoholism.
  6. 00
    Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons (silva_44)
    silva_44: Although the plot isn't very similar, Burnt Mountain reminds me of Jamaica Inn because of the peculiar psychotic actions of characters in each.
  7. 23
    North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (AdonisGuilfoyle)
    AdonisGuilfoyle: Mary Yellan reminded me very much of Gaskell's heroine Margaret Hale: both are young, outspoken, and are strong enough to cope with life's hardships and sorrows. And there is a comparison of 'north' and 'south' Cornwall in Du Maurier's novel, too!… (more)
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English (78)  French (3)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (84)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
I read this great yarn by a master storyteller while traveling in Wales. Some days we could see the Devonshire coast from the southern coast of Wales. One could easily imagine the lonely moors and the rocky coastal waters in which this novel is set. ( )
  renclbb | Jul 26, 2018 |
Jamaica Inn

While reading this I was reminded of how much I loved both Daphne du Maurier and romance when I was younger. Her writing is still a guilty pleasure in which I become completely lost for the hours in which I am reading. Her plots cause my heart to beat just a tad faster and to hope that I would have the courage the heroine shows in the face of all that insurmountable danger.

Her descriptions create place marvelously and her ability to evoke an atmospheric gothic setting is one of her strongest attributes. “It was a gentle rain that fell at Helford, a rain that pattered in the many trees and lost itself in the lush grass, formed into brooks and rivulets that emptied into the board river, sand into the grateful soil which gave back flowers in payment. This was a lashing, pitiless rain that stung the windows of the coach, and it soaked into a hard and barren soil.” I can feel the rumble of the coach and the harshness of the rain and I have a sense of both Helford, that she is leaving, and the desolate moors to which she goes. There is immediate foreboding.

While is cannot claim to have been at all surprised by the outcome of the novel, for some reason that has to do with du Maurier’s craft it does not bother me as it would in a modern day mystery. It is obvious immediately that Mary is trusting in the wrong person when she trusts in the Vicar. She ignores the warnings, and little red flags, but that might not be surprising since she is leaving at Jamaica Inn with a truly cruel and dangerous man and the Vicar is only slyly psychopathic. Jem is also a very predictable character...the handsome bad boy who will steal her heart and in the end save her life. Perhaps it is the familiarity of the genre that makes it work despite this obvious drawback.

What is clear is that du Maurier is addressing serious topics in the midst of her romantic fantasy. The intentional wrecking of ships and the killing of all aboard in order to take plunder must have been even more frightful for those alive at that time than it is for us to read of now. The depravity of the men who do this, the fear of the community that causes them to look the other way, and the pervasiveness of this practice (since Mary’s encounter with her uncle’s involvement causes her to remember an earlier event witnessed as a child in the presence of her now dead parents) are a strong commentary on the harsh times and the courage needed for any citizen to survive unscathed.


Listening to the voice of Daphne du Maurier is hypnotic. “Daily her mother weakened; daily the life ebbed from her. She lingered through harvest time, and through the fruit picking, and through the first falling of the leaves. But when the mists came in the morning, and he frosts settled on the ground, and the swollen river ran in flood to meet the boisterous sea, and the waves thundered and broke on the little beaches of Helford, the widow turned restlessly in her bed, plucking at the sheets. She called Mary by her dead husband’s name, and spoke of things that were gone and of people Mary had never known. For three days she lived in a little world of her own, and on the fourth day she died.” In one paragraph she has given us the last days, the time, the place and the palpable feeling of this death and with it a sense of the desolation for Mary.

Although she frequently resorts to plot devices that are cliched and problematic in Jamaica Inn, reading the story is like watching a very old black and white movie for which you do not expect the modern conventions to apply. Maybe the fact that her novels were so often those movies (Hitchcock loved her) is part of the desire I have to overlook and accept.

Jamaica Inn is not my favorite du Maurier, but it is a wonderful and mysterious ride through her Cornwall moors and deserves to be read. I do hope a new generation of readers will discover and love Daphne du Maurier as I have done. She has written novels that captivate and entertain and can bring joy even when read over and over again.

( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
I love Daphne Du Maurier's work and was using this book as a treat after reading several books of heavy topics. While I really enjoyed the story and was charmed by the character of the heroine, I felt the book lacked the power and atmosphere of some of the author's other famous books. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Jun 3, 2018 |
I always expect classics to be hard work and a bit ponderous to read. But this is a page turning romance / mystery novel rather than a Great Insight into the Human Condition. Mary Yellan wanders around Bodmin Moor as a bit of a wide eyed Mary Sue, making mistakes that contribute to the death of her Uncle (but he was evil, so that's OK) and her Aunt (who was basically broken, and would have stopped her riding off into the sunset, so that's convenient). It has great atmosphere, both the brooding brown moor with the high tors, and the wild seas and grim murderous cruelty of the bad guys. Although I was a little worried at the 'anyone who draws slightly cruel cartoons about people at church is probably an evil pagan murderer'. And the happy ending, as she wanders off into the sunset with her sexy sexy horse thief, is just a bit too similar to how her Aunt got into the whole mess in the first place to be truly happy.

(It's an interesting book for its slant on female sexuality - she is very aware that she fancies him at some hormonal level which not necessarily liking him or thinking it's a great idea, with an air of 'well, you know, that's Nature for you'. And she nearly spends the night with him, and then he vanishes off, possibly arrested, and she's very 'darn, maybe I should have done that while I had the chance.') ( )
  atreic | May 27, 2018 |
Mary Yellan leaves her home after her mother dies to live with her aunt Patience who lives with her husband at Jamaica Inn. Her aunt has gone from being a strong character to being a downtrodden victim of her domineering husband Joss Merlyn who is a smuggler. Mary has to cope with all this and live.

It's interesting and Mary is a great character, I found myself somewhat spoiled by the introduction and it would probably be better read after the book. I found the ending to be a bit rushed and the romance wasn't well developed for me. I'm pretty sure I read this before but I don't recall much of it. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Apr 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
du Maurier, DaphneAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Britton, TonyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunant, SarahIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Jamaica Inn stands today, hospitable and kindly, a temperance house on the twenty-mile road between Bodmin and Launceston.

In the following story of adventure I have pictured it as it might have been over a hundred and twenty years ago; and although existing place names figure in the pages, the characters and events described are entirely imaginary.

Daphne du Maurier
Bodinnick-by-Fowey
October 1935
Dedication
First words
It was a cold grey day in late November.
Jamaica Inn opens with echoes of Dracula: a carriage rattling through the desolate landscape and wild weather to a place where even the locals don't go, so ferocious is its reputation. (Introduction)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
VIRAGO EDITION:
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...
A huge success on first publication, Jamaica Inn is a dark and intriguing gothic tale that will remind readers of two other great classics, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380725398, Mass Market Paperback)

Jamaica Inn is a true classic. After the death of her mother, Mary Yellan travels to Jamaica Inn on the wild British moors to live with her Aunt Patience. The coachman warns her of the strange happenings there, but Mary is committed to remain at Jamaica Inn. Suddenly, her life is in the hands of strangers: her uncle, Joss Merlyn, whose crude ways repel her; Aunt Patience, who seems mentally unstable and perpetually frightened; and the enigmatic Francis Davey. But most importantly, Mary meets Jem Merlyn, Joss's younger brother, whose kisses make her heart race. Caught up in the danger at this inn of evil repute, Mary must survive murder, mystery, storms, and smugglers before she can build a life with Jem.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:13 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The inn is derelict, and no decent folks will come to it, speaking of it in fearful whispers. When Mary Yellan joins her aunt, married to the owner, she soon finds she has but two friends on the wild moors--the mysterious parson and an insolent, likeable horsethief.… (more)

» see all 13 descriptions

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