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Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

Jamaica Inn (original 1936; edition 2008)

by Daphne Du Maurier

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2,088453,134 (3.75)1 / 177
Title:Jamaica Inn
Authors:Daphne Du Maurier
Info:London, Virago, 2008
Collections:Your library

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Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (1936)

  1. 40
    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. 00
    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. 13
    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 (41)  French (3)  Dutch (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Plenty of Gothic goodness here - this is my second duMaurier (the other being Rebecca) and this page-turner deserves its classic status. I began reading this while on holiday in Cornwall, in homage to the author herself - and it certainly added a whole new dimension to my enjoyment of the book, knowing that the real Jamaica Inn was just a few miles up the road from where I was staying. Unfortunately, I can report that the real Inn has sadly been stripped of all vestigial romance - though the bar has a suitably traditional, historic interior, the adjoining museum (filled with cheesy wax tableaux) and tacky gift shop are pretty dreadful. Good thing I have my imagination - fired by this gripping novel - to rely on. ( )
1 vote Panopticon2 | Sep 30, 2013 |
What is it about tales of smugglers, wreakers and pirates that is so deliciously compelling? Even now, in a landlocked city in the 21st century, these kinds of tales are able to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. I can remember being utterly thrilled by the Kipling’s poem The Smugglers Song when I first came across it in primary school – it somehow had the same exciting quality about that those old tales of smugglers always have. Reading those lines now after all these years -it seems pretty tame – the rhythm of the lines echoing the horses trotting through the dark I still find strangely atmospheric.
If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that ask no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by.

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson, 'Baccy for the Clerk.
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!
(Rudyard Kipling)
I had read Jamaica Inn before, a very long time ago – I suspect I was in my teens – all those desolate moors and dangerous men – would have delighted me – actually they still do.
Mary Yellan is twenty three when her mother dies, having promised to do so, Mary sets out to find her Aunt Patience, who she hasn’t seen since she was a child. Mary remembers her aunt as a laughing beribboned young woman, her hair curled prettily. However Patience is no longer in Bodmin, but living with her husband on a remote road alongside the moors, in a place called Jamaica Inn. Jamaica Inn is a place whispered about in fear, a place where no coaches dare stop, where no travellers seek shelter. Jamaica Inn is not a place for the feint hearted – her Uncle Joss is a giant of a man, cruel, dangerous frequently drunk and desperate. Patience is now a shadow of her former self, nervous and cowed her hair grey and lank; she scuttles to do her husband’s bidding, twisting her hands in fear. Mary very nearly flees from the inn on her very first night there, staying only to care for her aunt, her plan to somehow get her aunt away from the man she married. Joss Merlyn warns her right from the start that she is to ignore whatever she might see and hear at Jamaica Inn, she will serve in the bar when required to do so, and keep to her room on the nights the wagons come to Jamaica Inn.
Mary soon learns to loathe her uncle, but she is a feisty and tough young woman, pushing aside her natural fear of the man, she squares up to him. Mary is brave and moral, sticking fiercely to her principles, wrestling valiantly with a group of her uncle’s associates in the dead of Christmas Eve night. Unwillingly drawn into the dark business that operates out of Jamaica Inn – Mary plans to rescue herself and her aunt from Joss Merlyn before turning him over to the law. It is quickly apparent however that this will be no easy task.
When horse thief Jem Merlyn – Joss’s younger brother, turns up at Jamaica Inn, Mary is both repelled and attracted to him. Jem is dangerous, and reminds her strongly of his older, nastier brother, she is certain she should not trust him.
There is a fantastically gothic, brooding atmosphere to this novel. Du Maurier has in no way romanticised the desperate men that haunted the coast of Cornwall during these brutal days – they are presented as cruel and ruthless criminals. Yet Jamaica Inn is a romantic novel in many ways – Mary Yellan is a fabulous heroine, sparky and determined. ( )
  Heaven-Ali | May 18, 2013 |
This is a fairly pedestrian story, by Du Maurier's standards, and it's interesting to think that it predated the extraordinary "Rebecca" by only two years.

The story is set on the Moors in England, back in the early 1800s. Our protagonist is a recently orphaned 23-year-old woman who leaves the hard work of her beloved farm in the South of England to go live with her aunt, per her dying mother's wishes. Only the vivacious aunt of Mary's memory is no more, replaced by a beaten down, prematurely aged woman, the perennial victim of a brutal, criminal husband. Little by little, Mary learns the truth of what happens at Jamaica Inn -- an inn where there are no lodgers and only rarely is the bar open or used.

Du Maurier does create a heroine who chafes at the restrictions of women's roles, a kind of proto-feminist heroine. ( )
  CandaceVan | Apr 16, 2013 |
I saw a lot of this book coming. The romance between Jem and Mary, such as it was; the evil albino stereotype; Jem's actions... The atmosphere itself is quite good: the damp chill of it came across well, and the oppressive feeling, and the horror of it... in fact, it rarely shed that atmosphere, even in the brighter moments. And the character of the landlord and his wife are, though still stereotypical, still reasonably well done. I could believe in Patience's cringing servility, and in the landlord's rages.

Still, beyond that, I didn't get very deeply involved in it. I wouldn't pick it up again, riveted by the story. The love story between Jem and Mary isn't very believable, partially because of the oppressive atmosphere and because of Jem and Mary's personalities. Mary doesn't seem like the kind of girl to fall in love with a rough and untender man like Jem, or to go running after him if she did. And she doesn't fight it, either.

Despite the atmosphere, which worked, I didn't really believe in Mary's feelings at all, actually. I didn't really feel her fear or loathing or desperation or love. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Mary Yellan is introduced as a young woman from a coastal village, recently orphaned, to whom forty miles represents the farthest she has ever been from home. We hear about the ‘gallant courage’ that has helped her through recent difficult times, but more about her fears of beginning a new life on Bodmin. It is tempting to think of the delicate and cloistered heroine of Rebecca, but Mary Yellan is no second Mrs de Winter. From the start, her courage shows through. Incredibly, on her very first night on Bodmin she threatens her savage uncle Joss with the magistrate. By day two she is nagging her aunt for information, and soon she is sneaking down to listen to goings-on in the bar.

Full review at Past Offences. ( )
  westwoodrich | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daphne du Maurierprimary authorall 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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:14 -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)

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