Time for another book review! This is a book I adore, I just love every aspect of the book and as I write this I am listening to the (abridged) audiobook version of the book. The romance, the action, the writing style, the character portraits, the drama. All of this book is brilliant and it is one of those books that you can just devour and run through at a quick pace, something Du Maurier is great at nailing.
‘Jamaica Inn’ is about a young woman called Mary Yellan, who has to go and live with her Aunt and Uncle in Bodmin after her mother dies. These relatives live at the mysterious Jamaica Inn, an old and daunting inn in the middle of the moors, with no other houses around. Already this setting builds up suspense and excitement and with the description of the moors and the bleak countryside I always get a thrill of mystery and excitement.
When Mary arrives at the inn she realises there is something not quite right, with her Uncle Joss acting in an aggressive, stand-offish way, and her Aunt never daring to speak in the house. Mary can feel there is something wrong and, as the novel goes on, more and more gets revealed to her which makes her question her own morals, as well as those of her Uncle and Aunt.
Eventually (quite quickly so this isn’t a spoiler!) she discovers that her Uncle Joss is behind a smuggling business, which leads to all sorts of problems for Mary and the inhabitants of Jamaica Inn. The darker side of this business leads Mary to build up a case against her Uncle and the novel really follows Mary’s plight against him and his business and her investigations into just how dangerous this smuggling is.
Alongside Mary’s discoveries of the goings-on at Jamaica Inn, there is the introduction of the character Jem, who is the brother of Mary’s Uncle Joss. At first Mary thinks he is immoral, as he is a reputed horse-thief, and she is wary of getting into a friendship with the brother of someone she hates. However, gradually, she becomes closer and closer to Jem and forgets her self-righteousness. The romance part of the book is brilliant, as the hostility between the two characters makes their romance all the more lovely. It’s not like their romance is particularly ‘cute’, but I couldn’t help falling in love with Jem myself, which makes it all the better! And I might add that Mary’s Uncle is her Uncle by marriage and so Mary loving his brother is by no way incestuous or anything like that, which did cross my mind at one point…
I love this book because of the way Du Maurier does what she does best: brilliant action mixed with atmospheric description and settings. For me, this is Du Maurier’s best book, and I think that the characters in the book are the most interesting and deep. For example, the characters of Mr Davey (the local vicar Mary confides the stories she has heard about smuggling to), Mary, Jem, Uncle Joss and Aunt Patience all have a great amount of depth and I would say they seem very real to the reader, as Jem clearly has his faults and is immoral, and Mary can be annoying in her self-righteousness, which shows how the characters are not flat and are instead rounded in the way they appear to the reader. The way Du Maurier also builds up to the climax is amazing, and there are so many twists and turns that until the very last page the reader knows as much as Mary does, which I loved!
‘Jamaica Inn’ is also easy to read but packed full of exciting twists and action, as well as brilliant, relatable characters and a romance that, I thought, was great! The fact that Du Maurier manages to pack so much great action into such a short book is also amazing. I really want to watch the series that was made on the BBC a few years ago, although from the trailer it looks like they change some of the story a bit.
Thanks for reading, let me know below in the comments if you’ve read this book and what you thought of it, or if you’re planning on reading it!
Happy reading x
Currently reading: ‘Warleggan’ by Winston Graham