In the bitter November wind, Mary Yellan crosses Bodmin Moor to Jamaica Inn. Her mother’s dying wish was that she take refuge there, with her Aunt Patience. But when Mary arrives, the warning of the coachman echoes in her mind: Jamaica Inn has a desolate power, and behind it’s crumbling walls Patience is a changed woman, cowering before her brooding, violent husband. When Mary discovers the inn’s dark secrets, the truth is more terrifying than anything she could possibly imagine, and she is forced to collude in her uncle’s murderous schemes. Against her will, she finds herself powerfully attracted to her uncle’s brother, a man she dares not trust.
Before being offered books from this author for review I had never heard of Daphne Du Maurier before. However, her books are known as classics and they have recently been reissued for the young adult audience.
Du Maurier sets the scene perfectly in the opening line of Jamaica Inn ‘It was a cold grey day in late November.’ You know from the very first sentence that this is going to be a bleak kind of book, but not in a bad way. I think the opening makes the book seem eerie and sombre.
The plot, told in third person, follows Mary Yellen and how her life changes after the death of her mother, whose last dying wish was for Mary to go live with her aunt. Mary doesn’t know what to expect from her aunt and uncle when she moves to the Jamaica Inn to live with them. It has been many years since she has seen her Aunt Patience and she is not prepared for how much she has changed.
Jamaica Inn starts off quite slowly but Du Maurier does such a fantastic job with the characters in this book that I didn’t mind. Although they’re definitely not all likeable, you cannot help but want to know more about them. Mary has had to go from a pretty happy life to living in such an awful place, surrounded by awful people and she has to make the most of what she has…not that it’s much. This is a book full of mysterious characters with plenty of secrets and they keep you hooked.
Mary soon realises that the Jamaica Inn is a meeting place for all kinds of bad man who have something to do with her aunt’s husband. This is a book filled with murder, smuggling, theft, friendships and even a little bit of romance. Luckily, the romance aspect didn’t take anything away from the really exciting plot but instead added more to it. The romance really tied everything together well and it also made it possible to hope for a good ending for poor Mary who is put through a hell of a lot.
This was such a different read for me but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It really did have everything I could have asked for in a book without being over the top in any way. If you’re a fan of Gothic novels then this one is a must!