Jamaica Inn - Daphne Du Maurier

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Jamaica Inn - Daphne Du Maurier

Stark and forbidding, Jamaica Inn stands alone on bleak Bodmin Moor, its very walls tainted with corruption. Young Mary Yellan soon learns of her uncl...

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Review of "Jamaica Inn - Daphne Du Maurier"

published 30/06/2009 | oldchem
Member since : 30/05/2009
Reviews : 410
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Pro The book is hard to put down and full of twists and turns - a must read
Cons You won't get the dishes done!!
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"Jamaica go Inn ? No she went on her own accord!!"



Those of you who read my review on 'Rebecca' will know that I am a big fan of Daphne Du Maurier's work.
Jamaica Inn is another of Ms Du Maurier's books that has paticular meaning to me as I have visited the actual 'Jamaica Inn' on Bodmin Moor.

It was in 1930 that Ms Du Maurier spent a night on the cold, dark and eerie Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. She had been out riding across the Moors with her friend,Foy Quiller-Couch, when a sudden dark fog came down and the couple found themselves lost on the bleak, foreboding moor. We can just imagine how they felt as she tells us that there were Bogs, quarries, brooks, boulders, hell on every side, we led the horses from the slippery track, and then got up on our saddles again; after several worrying hours lost on the moorland, they were very grateful to spot the gaunt chimneys of Jamaica Inn suddenly appearing out of the dark fog.

The history that she learnt of the Inn and the atmposphere inspired Daphne Du Maurier to write this novel.
The Inn a coaching inn, was built in 1750 and must have been a welcome stop for travellers crossing windswept and dangerous moor.
Cornwall, along with Devon, was a smugglelers paradise at that time, and not all the travellers who visited the Inn would have been respectable! It is even suggested that the Inn got the name 'Jamaica Inn' because of the trade it did in the illicit consignments of rum that made their way there!!

Daphne Du Maurier is without doubt the greatest Cornish writer, her knowledge and descriptions of the landscape and history of ner beloved county shine through in her work.

In Jamaica Inn she incorporates historical facts into her writing and also uses real places ( and sometimes people) from the area. One such place is the village of Altarnum and its vicarage which ( where in the book the wicked vicar livs) and also the chuch known as the "Cathedral of the Moor". Locals say that there is still a ’Jory’ family living in one of the villages of the Moors that probably inspired the character Tom Jory.

"The Story"
_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, cloaking them in mist_

With these opening words Du Maurier sets the scene for this dark and gothic novel.
The story is about Mary Yellan, aged 23, who in the early 1800s is forced to leave the farm she shared with her mother at Helford and go and live with her Aunt Patience,on Bodmin Moor after the death of her loving mother.

Mary's aunt is the wife of Joss Merlyn -.the inn keeper of Jamaica Inn, Joss Merlyn. Even as she enters the inn for the first time on the cold, dark November afternoon, the coachman urges her not to go in and warns her of the strange happenings there, but Mary is committed to honour her mother's dying request to spend time with her Aunt.
It doesn't take our heroine long to realise that all is not well at the dark, frightening inn - it has no guests and is not open to the public.

Mary immediatly sees that her once bubbly and fun loving aunt is a gaunt, frightened shell of the woman she used to be. Joss is continually drunk and is vicious and domineering to his wife. Mary tries during one of Joss's drunken spells to find out what is happening at the inn, but he tells her, I'm not drunk enough to tell you why I live in this God-forgotten spot, and why I'm the landlord of Jamaica Inn

Mary could not see any way that Joss Merlyn could make his living from the delipidated Inn.....until one dark night when she was woken from by the sounds of wagons. Risking her uncle's wrath she took a closer look and saw a groupof men unloading boxes into the Inn.

As Mary tries to come up with a plan to escape the moor with her aunt she finds that the only two people nearby who can possibly help are a mysterious albino clergyman from the village of Alarnum and Jem Merlyn, Joss's younger brother - a rugged, dark and handsome horse thief - despite Jem being her hated uncle's brother and him being a horse-thief she soon finds herself falling in love with him.

As Mary, her uncle and companions make their way home from the village on Christmas Eve and incident occurs that puts them in the middle of a far worse crime than smuggling, this sets off a terrifying set of circumstances which build up to the dramatic finish on the Bodmin moors themselves.

"Writing style"

Daphne du Maurier’s writing style in JAmaica Inn uses the language of the Gothic novel and there can be no doubt that the Brontës’ works were a big influence on her. There are certain similarities between Wuthering Heights and Jamaica Inn.
Both were set an harsh, mysterious moors, both had unwelcoming homes, both had dark, rugged 'heroes' and both were most certainly very Gothic.

One of the most obvious style in Du Maurier's writing of of Jamaica Inn is the way she drags out the story and keeps the readers interest by holding back information.

From the start we are kept wondering what is going to happen next. Du Maurier ( like Hitchcock himself who was to direct the first film of the book) is a mistress of suspense; she uses sounds repeatedly throughout the book to add suspense - , the creaking of the board which occurs several times, the footsteps of the unknown guest
Daphne du Maurier introduces clues implicating apparently innocent characters and so sends the readers off in completely the wrong direction so intensifying mystery. When I first read the book I thoiught that I had worked out the ending a couple of times, but clever twists in the story soon prooved me wrong.

Suspense, mystery and the characters in the novel complement each other making the reader want to be involved in the story, and the vivid descriptions make you feel like you are there.
This is both a love story and a thrilling mystery, a book that keeps you glued to it from start to finish.

A very good read - a classic !!

It has been made into two films, the first in 1936 by Alfred Hitchcock, starred Maureen O'Hara the second was made in 1982 and starred Jane Seymour.

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Comments on this review

  • rolandrat123 published 19/06/2017
  • TheHairyGodmother published 05/10/2009
    Excellent review :)
  • lillamarta published 30/06/2009
    Somehow didn't get the chance to read this, well done analysis!
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Product Information : Jamaica Inn - Daphne Du Maurier

Manufacturer's product description

Stark and forbidding, Jamaica Inn stands alone on bleak Bodmin Moor, its very walls tainted with corruption. Young Mary Yellan soon learns of her uncle Joss Merlyn's strange trade here - but does he deal in blacker secrets still? The author also wrote "Rebecca" and "My Cousin Rachel".

Product Details

Type: Fiction

Genre: Thriller

Title: Jamaica Inn

Author: Daphne Du Maurier

ISBN: 0099865602; 0330246666; 1844080390


Listed on Ciao since: 08/11/2006