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Jamaica Inn (1936)

by Daphne du Maurier

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,4921053,137 (3.76)1 / 405
For use in schools and libraries only. After her mother dies, Mary Yellan goes to live with her aunt and uncle at the mysterious Jamaica Inn, where she is terrified by the ruthless lawbreakers who frequent the roadhouse.
  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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 Daphne du Maurier fans: Jamaica Inn (Spoilers)1 unread / 1Catreona, August 2012

» See also 405 mentions

English (99)  French (3)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (105)
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
I read this book because it came up in a conversation with Mom. She'd read it as a young woman - I forget the context exactly, but maybe after having all her teeth pulled, or in ha sick bed for some reason? Anyway, she really enjoyed it, and it is certainly an exciting read, what with ship wreckers and danger all around and the stormy heath, an evil albino vicar and a nasty old uncle into the bargain. It was an enjoyable read. ( )
  jsmick | Nov 2, 2022 |
Superb atmospherics with the ever-lashing rain, fog-puddled moors and 3/4 of the action taking place at night with just stray moon or candlelight to see by. Also contributing are two first class baddies in the heroine’s hulking, brutish uncle and, best of all, the well-spoken satanic albino vicar. ( )
  yarb | Aug 11, 2022 |
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 living 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 the 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. ( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
3.5 / 5
I like the dreary, gothic atmosphere because it was very reminiscent of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Parts of the plot were slow and difficult to get excited about. However, I did like Mary's character and her perspectives on love and relationships, those were some of my favorite moments. But...I wasn't crazy about her relationship with Jem, so the ending for me fell flat. Overall, Jamaica Inn is a good book ... Doesn't stand a candle to Rebecca. ( )
  mandarella | Jul 11, 2022 |
Well that was disappointing. By which I mean, my eyes are sore from rolling so far up in the back of my head.

Perhaps, back in 1935 when this was first published, it was fresh, surprising, suspenseful, but now ... No, not so much. I found it incredibly predictable with one dimensional characters. The back cover of the book refers to the author as "one of the great shapers of popular culture." It could be that this is why I've read and seen this story a thousand times over. Or it could be that the person who said that really fucking hates pop culture.

Oh yeah. Almost forgot. I received a free copy of this through the Goodreads First Reads program. Boy was that ever a mismatch. ( )
  Zoes_Human | May 31, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (38 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
du Maurier, Daphneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Britton, TonyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cardeñoso Sáenz de Miera, ConchaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunant, SarahIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serbezova-Levi, StoyankaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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For use in schools and libraries only. After her mother dies, Mary Yellan goes to live with her aunt and uncle at the mysterious Jamaica Inn, where she is terrified by the ruthless lawbreakers who frequent the roadhouse.

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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
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Average: (3.76)
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