Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

Jamaica Inn was my latest CC spin choice. I also realised recently that I would be able to join in Heavenali's Daphne Du Maurier reading week too, provided I got my review done on time. So here we go!

My Du Maurier journey began many, many years ago when I read Rebecca, undoubtedly her most famous novel. I was left feeling rather underwhelmed. It was okay but not amazing or even particularly memorable, in my opinion. I thought that would be that regards DDM.

About a decade later, in 2007, I was travelling around England, with Mr Books for the World Cup, when in a gorgeous B and B near Hadrian's Wall, I discovered a copy of Mary Anne. The first pages had me hooked. This story - part family history, part fiction was just the right thing at the right time. I left behind my just-finished (and unloved) copy of Chesil Beach (that's another story entirely) and invited Mary Anne to join me for the rest of our trip.

A few years back a CCSspin gave me My Cousin Rachel. I was a little cautious in my approach but ended up loving the psychological tension that oozed off every page. DDM was definitely back in my good books.

Which brings us to Jamaica Inn. I found it to be a very light, easy gothic mystery romance. It was enjoyable, although predictable. The romance was less gushing, soft romance and more realistic, making-the-best-of-a-(possible)-bad situation, while the mystery was carefully plotted tension rather than seat-of-your-pants terror.

Joss Merlyn was a tough man with a weak character. Aunt Patience was just weak. Jem Merlyn was enigmatic and painted as the 'bad boy rebel'. Vicar Francis Davey was enigmatic and painted as the 'knight in shining armour'. Mary was our spunky, sassy heroine. As independent and in control as a woman of her age was allowed to be (some time in the 1820's I believe).

On reflection, Jamaica Inn was less gothic and more an interesting dip into the mind of an alcoholic. His psychological pain was sympathetically drawn by Du Maurier, curiously more so than the obvious and devastating pain suffered by Aunt Patience at his hands.

The pretty, pretty VMC cover (designed by Neisha Crosland) added to my pleasure.

Du Maurier tells us in a note at the start, that Jamaica Inn is a real place, while Annabel @Shiny New Books fills in some of the blanks:
Jamaica Inn, the setting for her famous novel of 1936, sits high on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. It was built in 1750 as a coaching inn and was a stopping-off place for many a smuggler. Du Maurier stayed there in 1930, and when out riding with her friend Foy Quiller-Couch got lost in the fog – but their horses returned them safely. This experience and hearing the tales of smuggling and ghosts associated with the inn inspired Daphne. These days, the lively inn is a famous tourist destination.

Favourite Character: Bad boy Jem of course!

Favourite or Forget: Enjoyable but forgettable.

Facts: Made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1939, an ITV series in 1983, adapted for the stage by David Horlock in 1990 and a BBC adaptation in 2014.


  1. This is on my 20 Books of Summer pile! I'm glad you enjoyed it, I'm looking forward to it.

    1. Aaaaahhh!! 20 Books of Summer/Winter - I'd forgotten!
      Perfect time for this prompt Jean as I'm in the mood for some list making :-)

  2. I have also been hot/cold on Du Maurier books, but I loved Rebecca (possibly because the movie was already a favorite) and found My Cousin Rachel (which is at this point a DNF) too dark and stressful. I have enjoyed some of her less famous books and will check out Jamaica Inn.

    1. It's obviously how my mind works Mary! But I loved the dark, manipulative tension of My Cousin Rachel - it was a real roller coaster ride of emotions!

      I am curious to reread Rebecca one day to see if I might get more out of it now that I know her style better. Hitchcock also did a movie of this book (as well as her short story The Birds) - the only author he made more than one movie of their work.

  3. I love this book, and have read it twice in the past. I think you're right about how DDM explores psychological pain. She taps into that brilliantly I think.

    1. The psychological depths were the most interesting parts for me and seemed like a precursor to what she did in My Cousin Rachel. Although I also really enjoyed her descriptions of the moors and the coastline - I could almost smell the bogs and the salty air.

      I still have Frenchman's Creek on my TBR pile - I might save it for next year's #DDMreadingweek :-)

  4. I liked that one. Haven't gotten to My Cousin Rachel yet but it's on my radar. I'm jealous about you seeing Hadrian's Wall, my dream trip!

    1. I had lots of dream moments on that particular trip to the UK Tina - including walking along the Cobb at Lyme Regis, my first circuit on the London Eye and seeing a Shakespeare play at the New Globe Theatre - magic stuff.

  5. My favorite part about this least favorite of Daphne’s works is the ending. I am so happy when things all work out for the good. (If you can call your lover being a murderer good. But, at least he got rid of the “bad guys”!)

    1. I struggled with the ending - a romantic ending rather a happy ending for me. I can't help but think that once the first kid came along (and back then the first kid came along pretty predictably 9 mnths later followed by one every second year after that until she died, he got locked out of the bedroom or took up a mistress!)

      I wonder how the care-free gypsy life will suit Mary then?

      I was concerned that she had completely compromised what was important to her (getting back to 'home' and a place where she belonged) to be with the man. Even a bad-boy rebel as dashing and charming a Jem!

  6. Yes, but I don’t think she had many options. Her parents were gone, her aunt was gone, she had no siblings, no friends. She could have been independent I suppose, but I liked that she found a love. If only he will stick around! ;)


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