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