Book Review: Jamaica Inn

I’ve just finished ‘Jamaica Inn’ by Daphne Du Maurier, and I can say… What an intense ride that was. The whole book was as eerie and mysterious as the moors that hold the setting, and the plot is filled with the heroine’s courage and the dangerous violence of the villains. And yet, I am still dubious over that ending. It was good, but I wonder… there’s an almost what if scenario surrounding it.

Anyhow, enough of that. On to the synopsis of the book and my review.

Synopsis

The coachman tried to warn her away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast. But young Mary Yellan chose instead to honor her mother’s dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn. 

From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn’s dark power. But never did Mary dream that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls — or that a handsome, mysterious stranger would so incite her passions … tempting her to love a man whom she dares not trust.

My Review

Jamaica Inn begins with the heroine, Mary Yellen, a character that you will begin to realise is courageous as she is clever, even as she berates herself for her foolery and reckless adventures. She is a well-rounded character of 23-years-old, and you definitely get the sense she is older than a teenager – before you even realise her age – yet still young. 

When Mary’s mother passes away at the beginning of the book, Mary has nowhere to go but to her Aunt Patience, who lives at Jamaica Inn. Mary remembers her as a bright, sunny character, who was bubbling about her new nuptials, but the woman she meets when she embarks on her journey is a completely different character altogether. She is a simpering mess, and Daphne Du Maurier writes her character with an altogether no-nonsense air, that Mary Yellen herself expresses also. But this is before she realises what is going on at Jamaica Inn. It’s smuggling nature, but there is much more to the tale.

After she meets her uncle, Joss Merlyn, some light into this dark energy appears. Mary immediately dislikes him, and this dislike soon turns to disgust and loathing as the book progresses, even as she determines to stay for her aunt’s sake.

But there are dark things afoot at the Inn, and as Mary is keenly aware of the feelings of those beyond Jamaica Inn, she begins to realise the truth of what surrounds both her uncle Joss’ behaviour, and her aunt’s trembling worries. Mary seeks out help from nearby, voicing her fears and eventual discoveries, but for all that, Mary determines to handle much on her own. Hers is a strong, stubborn character, and I very much liked it, even as she had her occasional bursts of emotion over her discoveries – she is all too human, all too well-rounded as a character, and Daphne Du Maurier has written not just one, but multiple characters that you can clearly imagine.

This has to be one of my favourite books this year. It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a book so much, eager to settle down in a chair or at bedtime to pour over the words. There were times I didn’t want to put it down, and now it is finished I wish I could read it over again.

That doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t dark. It was quite dark in places, discussing smuggling, thievery, and murder. Wrecking of ships against the shore, violent acts, and the threat of death were commonplace throughout the plot, driving it forward even as you hoped Mary would make it through, get herself to safety, and that there would be a happy ending at the end of it all.

I won’t spoil it for you, but if you’re after a book that’s intense and gripping, delving into beautiful descriptions of the moors and its ever-changing landscape, I say pick up this book.

I’m off to find me some more Daphne Du Maurier books to get lost in.

Kate @ Kandid Chronicles x


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