Book: Jamaica Inn
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Format Read: Paperback
“Jamaica Inn” was originally published in 1936, a couple of years before Daphne du Maurier’s iconic novel “Rebecca.” I read this one the first time a few years ago, and found it a fascinating tale of dark suspense. Since then I’ve reread it a few times and enjoyed each reread.
Twenty three year old Mary Yellan finds herself alone after the death of her mother, and, having no other family left, decides to move in with her Aunt Patience at the mysterious Jamaica Inn. And the Inn stands alone in a hauntingly desolate moor. It’s a place most people avoid. At least, most honest folk steer clear of the inn.
“Jamaica Inn” is a gothic tale of romance and mystery. It is also very atmospheric, with an undercurrent of shadowy deeds. du Maurier’s descriptions are masterfully done, and while “Rebecca” takes these a little further, “Jamaica Inn” does really well on its own.
The moor, in all its lonely glory, comes to life as Mary tries to adjust to her new life at Jamaica Inn. Her Aunt Patience, married to the innkeeper of Jamaica Inn, is jittery and nervous and really very odd. She’s not the woman Mary remembers from her youth – and she’s trying to keep secrets that are obviously driving her over the edge. Her uncle Mary learns to avoid – but he’s up to something and curiosity gets the better of her, leading her to truths she would rather avoid. And of course, there’s the romance, with the innkeeper’s younger brother Jem taking an interest in Mary. He is also a dubious character, and a horse thief in the bargain.
It’s a complicated plot in “Jamaica Inn” that leaves you guessing until the end. The innkeeper of Jamaica Inn has his reasons for staying so far away from civilization. Mary is a little too curious for her own good. Patience likes to block out thoughts of everything around her and behaves like a child. Jem is peculiar, rough and strangely attractive to Mary. Never mind that he has some of his brother’s traits. That was a little disturbing.
“Jamaica Inn” is dark and eminently readable, a novel I really like going back to every now and then.