Daphne Du Maurier: Jamaica Inn


17 year old Mary has made a deathbed-side promise to her mother to go and live with her aunt and uncle Patience and Joss after her mother has died.  So she exchanges the friendly South Cornwall farming town where she has grown up for Uncle Joss’s Jamaica Inn on the Bodmin Moor, which couldn’t possibly be any more different from her childhood home.

From page 1, Du Maurier wields her expert hand at creating a darkly foreboding, sinister atmosphere, which permeates the entire story.  This being Cornwall, there is smuggling aplenty, and though there are a few elements and characters I could have done without (most noticeably, Mary’s infatuation / love affair with a “charming rogue” who is about as clichéd as they come, as is her final decision, which impossibly even manages to combine both of the associated trope endings – (1) “I’m the only woman who can match him in wildness and who can stand up to him, therefore I am the one woman who is made for him,” and (2) “I am the woman who will tame him and make him respectable, therefore I am the one woman who is made for him” – which in and of itself bumped the book down a star in my rating), the story’s antagonist (Uncle Joss) in particular is more multi-layered and interesting than you’d expect, I (mostly) liked Mary, and anyway, Du Maurier’s books are all about atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere, and as an entry for the “Scary Women Authors” bingo square this one fit my purposes quite admirably.

 

The real Jamaica Inn in its present-day incarnation:

 

 

0 thoughts on “Daphne Du Maurier: Jamaica Inn

  1. I’m going ot have to dig out my review of this; all I can remember is how aggravated I was by the ending, and how much I wish they’d both been hit on the head at the end.

    1. The ending is stupid beyond belief — in fact, the book deteriorates the further the plot develops. But it was my first Du Maurier besides Rebecca, and I was chiefly there for the atmosphere … I remember reading the beginning in bed at night felt as much like Halloween as you can possibly get. 🙂

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