After her mother’s death, Mary Yellan moves to Jamaica Inn to live with her aunt Patience and uncle Joss. But the driver of the carriage warns her right away that strange things are happening at Jamaica Inn, a remote country estate in Cornwall. Once there, she discovers that Patience is afraid of her husband, who drinks a lot and hangs out with vagabonds. When Mary starts to hear strange noises under her room at night and her uncle asks her to shut her eyes, she begins to wonder what this is all about. Especially after meeting her uncle’s younger brother Jem, who is a charming horsethief.
Jamaica Inn is a typical gothic story about a mysterious estate in which a young girl tries to understand what frightens her. Du Maurier is a great author and creates a real page turner. It may all be a bit less ingenious than Rebecca, but I really liked Mary as a main character much more. She’s strong and dares to speak out against the men in her life. I liked her :).
Her uncle Joss is a larger than life character and the truth behind his actions is horrifying. There’s a bit of romance and there are some twists that you see coming. But Mary does not and it has a certain charm to experience it all from a brave but naive young girl. The various characters are well developed: from horsethief Jem, the albino priest Francis Davey, to Mr Bassat who would do anything to drag Joss before court. It all blends together beautifully.
The house ‘Jamaica Inn’ really comes alive through the pages and is a character in itself. The descriptions of a cold and foggy Cornwall provide that dark atmosphere the gothic genre is known for. I certainly enjoyed reading it. And I think I can proudly say now that I am a Du Maurier fan!
This is book 11/50 for the classics club.
What’s your favourite Du Maurier novel?