New Read: Jamaica Inn

Jamaica Inn

I have previously read one novel and two short-story collections and ever since I have been desperate to read more by Daphne du Maurier. This year I was lucky enough to get my hands of three more of her novels. I decided to read Jamaica Inn first after having watched a BBC adaptation.

Due to her mother’s dying request young Mary Yellan is brought to the lonely and dilapidated Jamaica Inn out on the wind-swept, desolate moorland of Cornwall. Mary hopes to bring some comfort to her Aunt Patience who she finds has been broken by her overbearing husband, Joss Merlyn. The inn is no longer open to travellers and is in fact shunned by everyone. In time Mary discovers that her uncle is a ringleader of a cruel gang of smugglers and murderers. Day-by-day Mary is being drawn into this dark world where she is left with a hard decision: to run or stay to try to save her aunt.

Mary grew up on a farm with her mother, after losing her father at a very young age, because of this Mary has grown-up hardy, strong and practical – virtues which will help her as she adjusts to her harsh new life at Jamaica Inn. Even Mary though can’t fight the darkness enveloping her forever. I found this a fascinating struggle to read about and I found Mary to be an open and frank narrator. I also found Mary to be an honest and naturally trusting soul which does not stand her so well in a place where corruption runs deep; leaving Mary unsure if she can trust anyone.

Joss Merlyn is a deep and complicated bad guy. While he is now a guilt-ridden, drunken shadow of the man Aunt Patience once fell in love with. There are times when you can glimpse the handsome and clever man he once was, which makes him more sinister. Joss is clearly drawn to Mary’s youth, beauty and honesty – his drunken confession to her though does not redeem him as it only draws Mary into further danger. Then Mary’s attraction to Joss’ younger brother Jem has her questioning whether she is truly a good person, especially if she gives in to this attraction. I could see the appeal of Jem but I don’t like the bad boys myself.

This is only the second novel I have read by Daphne du Maurier; the previous being Rebecca. I think I still slightly prefer Rebecca however Jamaica Inn was another gripping and immersive read. I was fascinated by the characters and drawn into the dark, atmospheric setting of the Bodmin Moors, Cornwall; not a place I have visited myself. While reading this though I could picture it perfectly, I could almost feel the dark, damp air and smell the sea upon the sharp, cold wind. Beautiful!

Jamaica Inn was a dark and gothic tale which had me gripped, fascinated and repulsed in equal measure from the start. I can’t wait to read more by Daphne du Maurier. I still have copies of Frenchman’s Creek and The House on the Strand on my TBR pile. Great read.

Have you read this? What is your favourite novel by Daphne du Maurier?

The Women’s Classic Literature Event – #1


22 thoughts on “New Read: Jamaica Inn

    1. As you can see I really enjoyed both this and Rebecca and I hope you enjoy them too; I would recommend starting with Rebecca. I did also enjoy the BBC series but the book was better! For a du Maurier adaptation, for me, it has to be Hitchcock’s 1940 film Rebecca starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine 🙂

  1. I asked for this for Christmas so I could read it Christmas day, you’ve made it sound even better than I was expecting (and I skim read to avoid spoilers). 😀

  2. My favourite is Rebecca, which I read several times. Others I’ve enjoyed include Mary Anne, The Scapegoat and My Cousin Rachel, as well as Jamaica Inn and Frenchman’s Creek. But I read them years ago – maybe it’s time for a re-read! And there are still some I haven’t read. Du Maurier is one of my favourite authors.

    1. Margaret a re-read sounds like a great idea 🙂 I am pleased to hear you enjoyed Frenchman’s Creek as I have a copy of that on my TBR pile. It also looks like I need to keep an eye out for copies of The Scapegoat and My Cousin Rachel; as many people have listed them among their favourites.

  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed this as Daphne du Maurier is one of my favourite authors. I’ve now read most of her books, although Frenchman’s Creek is one that I haven’t read yet. Rebecca is still my favourite, but I also loved The House on the Strand, The Scapegoat and My Cousin Rachel. You have a lot to look forward to! 🙂

    1. Thank you Helen 🙂 I am pleased to see you loved The House on the Strand as I have that on my TBR pile, and it looks like we both have Frenchman’s Creek to look forward too. I hope we’re both able to read it soon 🙂

    1. Judy it is wonderful to hear you have enjoyed all the recommendations in the comments and The Scapegoat; I have heard of it but don’t really know anything about it. Now I am pretty much looking forward to reading anything by this author!

  4. I’ve read Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, both of which I loved. I watched the BBC adaptation too and definitely need to get round to Jamaica Inn soon. Glad you enjoyed it

  5. I also read ‘Jamaica Inn’ this past October and it was such a fitting spooky read! I really enjoyed reading this, though, like you, I think ‘Rebecca’ still remains my favourite one. I still haven’t read the entirety of her works, though, so I’m excited for everything that I’ve yet to read 🙂

  6. Such a good book. I think Rebecca will always hold a special place for me but certainly this is a great novel. Did you watch the adaptation with Trevor Eve – i really liked it although it was some years ago so probably a little dated now.
    My Cousin Rachel is also excellent. I love DuMaurier’s writing. I’ve been to Cornwall so many times and for me she transports me back whenever I read. The fact that you haven’t been to Cornwall but find it so easy to imagine is another testament to her writing.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Lynn, I haven’t seen the adaptation with Trevor Eve in. I watched the recent one with Jessica Brown-Findley (Downton Abbey) in. It had mixed reviews – with a quite a lot of complaints about the dialogue. As for Cornwall I have been but only to a couple of places and never on the moorland, which of course most this novel is set in.

      I am looking forward to reading My Cousin Rachel even more now, as several people have named it as a favourite 🙂

  7. I loved her bio fiction Mary Anne. I also preferred My Cousin Rachel to Rebecca. Jamaica Inn and Frenchman’s Creek are on my TBR. Looks like they’re all enjoyable in their own ways 🙂

    1. Brona, it is interesting to hear that you preferred My Cousin Rachel to Rebecca, as the latter is a firm favourite with a lot of people in the comments. I look forward to reading My Cousin Rachel even more now. I hope you enjoy Jamaica Inn 🙂

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