Review: Jamaica Inn


Ever since I read Rebecca, I wanted to try another novel by Daphne Du Maurier, and the winter season seems to fit her atmospheric suspenseful works perfectly. Over Christmas I read Jamaica Inn along with Jo from Bibliojunkie (cause she scored a load of Du Maurier books, begging to be read 🙂 ), and what a great read it was. Imagine sitting curled up under a quilt, the tea next to you, a white blanket of snow covering everything outside and the book you open begins:

It was a cold grey day in late November. The weather had changed overnight, when a backing wind brought a granite sky and a mizzling rain with it, and although it was now only a little after two o’clock in the afternoon the pallor of a winter evening seemed to have closed upon the hills, cloaking them in mist.

This is pretty much why I love cosy reading in autumn and winter so much. And I think that’s also what made me enjoy Jamaica Inn a lot, even though my first Du Maurier was Rebecca which is so perfect in every way that this one could only fall short in comparison. In regard to atmosphere, Jamaica Inn is a triumph. The setting of the wild moors of Cornwall comes to life, with all their danger and excitement, and in the middle of nowhere, Jamaica Inn, the rundown guesthouse where the coaches don’t dare stop anymore and mysterious and sinister things seem to be going on.

The characters are pretty much standard for gothic suspense novels; Mary Yellan, our heroine, is intelligent and courageous but not too much, the landlord who is her uncle is satisfyingly creepy and dangerous. There is also a weak aunt, a vicar and the mandatory love interest (another bad boy, but such fun banter). Characterization is solid but not great, the characters didn’t annoy me but they didn’t stand out either. They are forerunners to the vibrant, intense characters found in Rebecca.

Perhaps I read too many mysteries, but the twist was very obvious (to quote one of my favorite shows, “I heard that one coming from around the corner. It was wearing tap shoes.”). That might be due to the small number of characters, I don’t know, but I still found the novel suspenseful and had to force myself to read slowly and enjoy the world of moors and villains that Du Maurier conjures. It’s really a great book to lose yourself in for a couple of hours and it only made me want to read more by Du Maurier but I think I should pace myself, she won’t be writing any more books! Still, my edition is very tempting as it includes Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek and Cousin Rachel (I’ve been eyeing the last one a lot recently). And though it’s not great for carrying around, this book is actually pretty handy since my family thought I was reading the whole book and so gave me plenty of alone (=reading) time 😀

I didn’t want to say much about the plot, partly because I don’t want to spoil things for those who haven’t read it yet, and partly because the only things I knew about Jamaica Inn before reading it was that it was written by Du Maurier and that it was set in Cornwall, and I think not knowing much about the plot made it a more enjoyable and suspenseful read.


Other thoughts:


Things Mean A Lot

A Striped Armchair

Coffee Stained Pages

The Reading Life

Sam Still Reading

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!

19 thoughts on “Review: Jamaica Inn

  1. Didn’t know you have such a wonderful collection of Du Maurier in one book! You had your parents fooled! 😉 the collection is most auspicious too, as it is just the exact books I wanted to read in that sequence… i.e. Frenchman’s Creek, then My Cousin Rachel (I kid you not). Very telepathic. I plead I may have the honour that you become my Du Maurier reading partner. LOL 😀

    1. Jo, I’d love to! And works out great with the reading order and of course you have all those pretty editions of her works!:D
      I found that edition in a second hand shop, it’s always a challenge for me to find some great books in English, and someone had actually given away this treasure!

      1. Right on! Tell me when you would like to read The Frenchman’s Creek, 1.5 month in advance. And don’t dream about wandering in moors too much, you may be rescued by the Vicar of Altarnum, and you don’t want that! LOL 😀

        Bless the donor who give away their treasures. I found so many on second hand shops past 2 years that I always thank whoever gave them out so that the next person could enjoy it…me! 🙂

        1. Heh, he was pretty creepy from the beginning 😀

          I think I’d like to read Frenchman’s Creek around February/March, just let me know when it works best for you 🙂

          I’m always torn between delight and horror in second hand shops, delight at great finds and horror that someone ave them away 😀

    1. Ah, I remember your review now, it made me want to read Jamaica Inn soon! 🙂 I added yours to the list, thanks for the link.

      Have a great New Year as well! 🙂

  2. Haha, I love your thinking about reading a huge book to distract the family 😉

    I need to try Du Maurier, especially because of my Jane Eyre obsession. I hope to get her this year (=2011) (but what book do I not say this about?)

    1. I hope you’ll get to Du Maurier this year! And I never know whether to recommend her masterpiece or starting with her other works. Jamaica Inn is really good, but Rebecca is fantastic! 🙂

  3. Ooo that opening section is just perfect! Expecially as I look out my window right now! Since reading Rebecca I’ve been hankering to read more Du Maurier, I think it might be this or My Cousin Rachel.

    1. It is really the perfect weather to curl up and read Du Maurier. My Cousin Rachel sounds quite fantastic, if you do decide to read it, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it 🙂

  4. Loved the setting you have described in your intro, quilt and snow and all! 😀 Perfect for a du Maurier too… I have been wanting to read another of her works apart from Rebecca too because I loved it so much… Great review, will check this out 🙂 And wishing you a beautiful year ahead, hope you read mysteries to your heart’s content! 😀

    1. Heh, it s perfect, and now it’s also very grey and who wants to go out in this weather anyway, better curl up with a great book 🙂 I loved Rebecca as well, hope you’ll enjoy Du Maurier’s other works as well.

      Thanks, Birdy! Happy new year to you as well, hope it’s filled with lots of awesome books!

  5. If only we get that sort of wintery atmosphere here too (although I suppose not being snowed in is quite a good exchange!). I spent the day reading and I finally finished Rebecca. After nearly ten years (long story) and numerous stop-start attempts, I finished it and I’m pretty impressed. I’ll have to try another book by Du Maurier and Jamaica Inn sounds good.

    1. If the public transport system wouldn’t break down every winter, I’d love the weather more, but it’s still pretty great, especially if you’re inside with a great book 😀

      Good for you! Rebecca is so great, glad you enjoyed it then. Maybe it was a matter of timing 🙂

  6. Wonderful review, Bina! I love the edition you have – it must be quite heavy to carry but wonderful to have and read. I also loved the line you have quoted – “I heard that one coming from around the corner. It was wearing tap shoes” 🙂 I haven’t read any of Du Maurier’s books, though I remember checking out ‘Jamaica Inn’ from the library using my sister’s card, when I was in school, and my sister demanding her card back and so I had to return it. I hope to read this and ‘Rebecca’ one day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s