‘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 which makes her question her own morals, as well as those of her family.
Eventually 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 book really follows Mary’s plight against him and his business, and her investigations into just how dangerous this smuggling is for everyone.
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 aspect of the book is brilliant, as the initial hostility between the two characters makes their romance all the more relatable and amazing.
It’s not like their romance is particularly ‘cute’ but I couldn’t help falling in love with their relationship. 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.
I loved the characters in this book. There was Mr Davey, the local vicar Mary confides in, Jem, Uncle Joss, and Aunt Patience. Each character has a great amount of depth- and I would say all the characters seem very real to the reader. Jem clearly has his faults and is immoral, and Mary can be annoying in her self-righteousness- but this is what makes them honest and real.
The way Du Maurier also builds up to the climax of the story is amazing. There are so many twists and turns throughout this book, which I loved!
‘Jamaica Inn’ is such an easy-to-read modern classic, and the fact that Du Maurier manages to pack so much action and character growth into such a short book is brilliant. I really want to watch the TV series that was made by the BBC a few years ago!
Have you read ‘Jamaica Inn’ by Daphne Du Maurier? What do you think of my review of this book? Have you tried the TV series?
Happy reading x