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Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier 

Jamaica Inn (original 1936; edition 1936)

by Daphne du Maurier 

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,441712,530 (3.76)1 / 313
Title:Jamaica Inn
Authors:Daphne du Maurier 
Info:Triangle Books 1936 (1936), Unknown Binding
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, mystery, UK

Work details

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (1936)

  1. 60
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (katie4098)
  2. 10
    Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming (Sylak)
    Sylak: Another story involving a complex central character worth a good read.
  3. 10
    To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway (Sylak)
    Sylak: Another story involving themes of smuggling and alcoholism.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 (65)  French (3)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (71)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
A slow build, but the second half brims with satisfyingly gothic atmosphere and a sense of true danger. The moors are described in harrowing, bleak detail. ( )
  xicohtli | Jul 20, 2016 |
WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I discovered and bought Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier last year while I was doing a bit of research on books by Daphne du Maurier.

WHY I Chose to Read It
I first read Rebecca in high school and I loved the Gothic atmosphere of the book. Since then, I've read Rebecca numerous times and have also watched many of the book-to-movie adaptations. I bought this book last year in an attempt to read more books by Daphne du Marurier. This challenge gave me a great opportunity to read it.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
Jamaica Inn was first published in 1936. It's set in Cornwell during the 1820's and the inn, which in itself is a character in the novel, is a real place as is the moors that surround it. Daphne du Maurier once spent some time there and was inspired enough to write this novel. Mary Yellan, the main character, is sent to live with her Aunt Patience and Uncle Joss after her mother passes away. Once there she learns of the Inn's dubious reputation. Mostly because of what people know and won't talk about: wreckers. Wreckers sound like some horrible monster that wrecks havoc on unsuspecting victims, but in this instance it's worse. It's humans at their worst. Wreckers run ships aground and then steal its cargo and murder its crew and occupants. And Joss Merlyn is their leader. Mary stays because she's afraid to leave her aunt in the clutches of such a man, but all the while she makes plans to escape. Only things are not as easy as she hopes they would be.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
In truth, this book was a lot darker than I thought it would be. After reading Rebecca, I knew Daphne du Maurier had a great capacity for weaving a story with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, and she didn't fail here. And as deplorable as the goings on at the Jamaica Inn were, I didn't want to put the book down until I knew what would happen to Mary. In short, I'm really impressed with the scope of Daphne du Maurier's imagination.

WILL It Stay A Classic
Absolutely! Not that the book needs it to gain attention, but Jamaica Inn has been made into several movies which will continue to spark interest in du Maurier's work. The latest adaptation was made in 2014 and is available for streaming on Acorn. And if that's not enough you can book your stay at the real Jamaica Inn. Which looks fantastic and makes me sad that I don't live in England.

WHO I’d Recommend It To
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the classics, Gothic literature, or mysteries. Or pretty much anyone on the street.

Read more at http://www.toreadornottoread.net/2016/01/jamaica-inn-by-daphne-du-maurier.html#7... ( )
  mt256 | Mar 31, 2016 |
First words:
~ It was a cold grey day in late November. The weather had changed overnight, when a backing wind brought a granite sky and a mizzling rain with it, and although it was now only a little after two o'clock in the afternoon the pallour of a winter evening seemed to have closed upon the hills~

I read this when I was sick in bed with a cold and even though I kept falling asleep because I was sick I picked it up again as soon as I woke up. I would have finished it in a lot less time if I had not been ill. Even so, reading a book like this usually would take me longer than 3 days.

Written in 1936 it is considered a more modern horror story with gothic horror tendencies and, of course, some romance.

Having barely made it through the classic gothic romance,The Mysteries of Udolpho, by Ann Radcliffe, which was probably my worst reading experience EVER, I was a little worried about Jamaica Inn. When I heard gothic horror / gothic romance I was not sure what to expect. Udolpho was so tedious. I abandoned it several times as I couldn't stand another minute of reading pages and pages about nothing and more nothing.

But I was pleasantly surprised with Jamaica Inn. What a difference reading du Maurier’s descriptive passages about the Moors of Cornwall. I loved it! I could not get enough of it. The writing was not exactly scary but, rather, suspenseful. The twist in the story I picked up on before we got to it, but that didn’t change my appreciation for the story. But you know, the story was secondary, it was the beautiful writing that got me in this one.

I will definitely read more by this author. I have 5 others on my bookshelves.

4.0 Stars
  ccookie | Mar 20, 2016 |
Six-word review: Atmospheric thriller, strong heroine, literate author.

Extended review:

Daphne du Maurier has an extraordinary knack for creating atmosphere. She gives us the moors of Cornwall, "a silent, desolate country...vast and untouched by human hand." Bleak expanses of hard, scrubby ground and soggy, treacherous marshes are broken by the high tors, massive slabs and towers of stone that are monstrous, moody presences:

Wild sheep dwelt on the high tors, and there were ravens too, and buzzards; the hills were homing places for all solitary things.... When the wind blew on the hills it whistled mournfully in the crevices of granite, and sometimes it shuddered like a man in pain. Strange winds blew from nowhere; they crept along the surface of the grass, and the grass shivered; they breathed upon the little pools of rain in the hollowed stones, and the pools rippled. Sometimes the wind shouted and cried, and the cry echoed in the crevices, and moaned, and was lost again. There was a silence on the tors that belonged to another age; an age that is past and vanished as though it had never been, an age when man did not exist, but pagan footsteps trod upon the hills. And there was a stillness in the air, and a stranger, older peace, that was not the peace of God. (page 42)

In this country there are men as savage as the land, men who are beyond knowing the horror of their own deeds.

And this is the place to which young Mary Yellan comes, bound by a deathbed promise to her mother. Rogues and thieves and drunkards are not the worst of what she will meet as her drama plays out. Mystery and menace darken the wintry days she spends under the roof of her evil uncle, and there is little enough to give her hope of escape to a better life.

But Mary is made of sturdy stuff, despite the repeated reminders, in several characters' voices, of the presumed weakness of her sex. It's not a matter of defying the clichés; they're treated as natural limitations, as they were for centuries before feminism raised awareness. But they don't define Mary. She has natural advantages, too, such as strength, determination, and loyalty. She's not a quitter, even against all the odds. The horrors she's forced to face and the challenges she must meet would be enough to bring down many a lesser character of either sex.

One of the things I especially like about this tale is that the author doesn't try to justify everything her protagonist does. We don't have to be badgered or maneuvered into agreeing with Mary or necessarily thinking we'd have done the same in her place. We just have to believe that what she does is honestly within her character, and it is. This gives the author leeway to show us a pleasing complexity of character, with the kinds of flaws that make it ring true. Like Eustacia Vye, Mary shows a strong silhouette against a grim background, while still being both feminine and vulnerable.

There are several places where I wondered why something happened as it did, but there's only one plot point that I found truly jarring. As the momentum accelerates, a scene occurs in which Mary must provide access to a second-floor bedroom:

She...tied one end of her blanket to the foot of her bed, throwing the other out the window.... (page 234 in this 1936 edition)

I'd like to see that done. Try tying a knot in a blanket, enough of a knot to support someone's weight when secured to--what, a bedpost? The thickness of a blanket, any blanket, even one as thin as a sheet, is going to make it very difficult to tie, with a knot so bulky that it will gather up a lot of material and leave little to hang down. This sort of thing works in movies and animated cartoons, but could it possibly work in a realistic environment? I doubted it enough to stall out temporarily at that point; but of course I came back to find out what happened to Mary. And I blamed the author for that absurdity, not the character.

The deep interconnections of character and place, out of which events proceed with a seeming inevitability, create a satisfying unfolding of plot, even if you guess the key to the mystery a little too soon. The exciting finish is worth the wait. ( )
5 vote Meredy | Feb 2, 2016 |
A fun, suspense-romance adventure story and a worthy take on a particular historical romance novel cliche set, but nothing amazing and nowhere near as subtle as du Maurier can be. books like [Rebecca] and [My Cousin Rachel] are far more meaningful and original/surprising than this one, despite the entertainment value here! ( )
  KLmesoftly | Feb 1, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maurier, Daphne duprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Britton, TonyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunant, SarahIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
October 1935
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)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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