Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

Synopsis From Back Cover:

The coachman tried to warn her away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast.  But young Mary Yellan chose instead to honor her mother's dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn.  From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn's dark power.  But never did Mary dream that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls - or that a handsome, mysterious stranger would so incite her passions... tempting her to love a man who she dares not trust.

I've noticed a theme this year, not one I planned or even really thought of on any level.  It seems that I've revisiting a lot of authors that I first read back in 2011, and that continues with Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier.  I had finally read Rebecca that October and quickly followed it up with her short story collection, The Doll.  Both of those works helped me fall in love with the author's ability to use words to create a lush atmosphere surrounding her characters.

Sadly, I can't say that I loved Jamaica Inn as much as I did those previous two books, but anything I was missing in the story, was more than made up for in the way this author writes.  The story itself is pretty simple.  A young, naive woman is forced, after the death of her mother, to move in with her aunt who she hasn't seen in years.  Once on the journey to the inn that her husband runs, Mary is warned, heavily, away from finishing her journey.  She meets more than one person who has nothing kind to say about the man running Jamaica Inn.  Out of a sense of duty, she continues on her way, and she is of course shocked by the changes she sees in her aunt.  What was once a gay and bright woman, has been replaced by a meek and frightened wraith of her former self.  It doesn't take Mary long to figure out that it's her "uncle" Joss that has put her aunt into this position.

So I'm guess by now that you have figured out there is something horribly wrong with Jamaica Inn.  You probably reached it at around the same time Mary did, if not earlier.  Now I'm saying you probably figured it out before Mary.  Whether you have read the book, or are familiar with this writer's work, you know that du Maurier has a gift of painting the mood with the descriptions and word choices she makes.  You don't need a character to tell you something is wrong with the picture, you can see if for yourself in the way she uses language to paint a vivid picture in your mind.  Because of that alone, I think I would read just about anything by her, even if it it's a toothbrush manual.

Now the rest of the story, I'm sure you can guess.  Mary is determined to figure out the secrets behind Jamaica Inn and it's proprietor.  She uncovers a few family secrets, a murder or two, and a massive smuggling ring being run out of the inn.  I'm sure you can guess that there is a lot more to it than that, but you get the idea.  And being a "Gothic" novel/mystery, you can also assume that not all the characters are who the appear to be, and that not everyone should be taken at face value.  Sometimes those you are inclined to trust, are those you should run away from the quickest.

I have one more book on my shelves waiting to be read, Hungry Hill, and wile it looks to be more of a Gothic romance, not something I would  normally read, I'm looking forward to it just the same.

Challenges: A-Z, VM (Scene of the Crime)


Heidenkind said...

This is actually the only du Maurier novel I've managed to finish (although I love her short stories), but I don't remember ANYTHING about it.

bermudaonion said...

Before I started reading blogs, I thought du Maurier was a romance writer. I really need to try her work but I think I'll start with Rebecca.

carol said...

I read a bunch of du Maurier's books when I was a teenager from my mom's collection, but don't remember much of any of them.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

It's a shame this didn't live up to Rebecca, but that's a pretty high bar to try to reach! I loved Rebecca and Jamaica Inn is the other du Maurier I own, so I'm going to try it soon.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Ryan, I liked this one, but nothing can compare to Rebecca:) IMO

neer said...

I didn't really enjoy this but then hardly anything can compare to Rebecca or My Cousin Rachel.

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

I have a ton of Du Maurier books, but I'm not sure if I have this one. My list is buried under a pile of books and I'm too lazy to get up and look. LOL! I do have Hungry Hill, I know.

I really need to read more of her books. Great review, Ryan!