I am a huge fan of Daphne du Maurier and have so far LOVED anything I’ve read by her. I’ve been saving Jamaica Inn for a good couple of years now as I knew it would be good. Once you’ve read a book you never get to read it again for that magical first experience. I wanted to wait for the best time to read my next du Maurier instalment and last week that time came…
Recently I’ve been experiencing a bit of a reading slump. I’m not lacking in choice by any stretch of the imagination, but have sort of lost the enthusiasm. I also find that if my head is really full then I struggle to take things in and can have skim read several pages of a book and not really read it at all. One of the ways I get out of this is to read something by a favourite and trusted author – something you are fairly well guaranteed to enjoy…
On her death bed Mary Yellan’s mother begs her to seek out her aunt and uncle in Bodmin and start a new life with them there. Mary is heartbroken to leave her beloved Helford, comforting and familiar, for the bleak and lonely Bodmin. But with her Mother slipping away from her she can do nothing but promise to find them.
However, her uncle is now the landlord of the notorious Jamaica Inn, situated in an isolated spot on the desolate Bodmin moors. Mary can only just persuade the coachman to stop long enough for her to disembark, against his advice. What awaits her there is beyond her wildest nightmares and Mary will never be the same again. Aunt Patience is unrecognisable, viciously downtrodden by Uncle Joss who deals in secrets, dark deeds and perhaps even human life.
While trapped in the haunted shell of Jamaica Inn, she begins to explore the inhospitable moors as an escape, learning of their habits and their people. One person in particular, her uncles younger brother Jem, draws her affections against her will and soon she finds herself questioning everything.
Entirely worth the wait – I was absolutely hooked from beginning to end! A truly fantastic book, her characters crackle with originality and imagery, and her settings are so immersive one looses oneself among them… I could feel the mist of the moors seeping out from between the pages and enveloping me.
Jamaica Inn is now the fourth book of Daphne du Maurier’s that I’ve read. First was Rebecca, second My Cousin Rachel and third Frenchman’s Creek. However, I found Jamaica Inn the spookiest so far. Perhaps it’s the wintery months – I read the others during glorious summers! One night last week I spooked myself so much towards the end of the novel that I had to read a few pages of L.M. Montgomery to allow me to sleep!
I was once again awed by her use of the landscape as another character, it’s unpredictable environment effecting the outcome of events like that of the unpredictable human personalities. I was also thoroughly impressed by her villains – you think you know, then you are suspicious, and then you are still taken entirely unawares!
For a book which at one level is a romantic adventure story, Jamaica Inn is full of decidedly unromantic thoughts.Sarah Dunant, Introduction to Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, 2015.
I wanted to include this quote from Sarah Dunant’s fantastic introduction to the 2015 edition by Virago Modern Classics. I am becoming more and more interested in the history of Daphne du Maurier’s books being sold as romances when really that is but one element in their whole creation. Jamaica Inn was actually incredibly philosophical and thought provoking – constantly highlighting and questioning the plight, rights, treatment and expectations of women.
Something that fascinates me about having a favourite author is that you end up dabbling in genres you would otherwise not touch. Jamaica Inn is Gothic Thriller full of criminal gangs, smuggling and murder… if you are a regular follower you’ll know that I definitely do not usually read this style!
However, Jamaica Inn was the perfect October escapism reading. Bursting with incredible atmospheric language, an immersive past, threads of ancient story telling and dark rumours, a desolate landscape thick with secrets, an adventurous and spirited heroine, a whiff of romance and some classic verbal sparring – utterly loved it!
I’d love to hear if you have a favourite author or way of getting out of a reading slump – drop me a note in the comments. Fellow book blogger Lucy recently wrote a fantastic post on the topic of reading slumps, with tips and what works for her, which you can check out here.
On a final note – super exciting news – the new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca starring Lily James was released on Netflix this week! So excited 🙂 Let me know if you are excited too or if you’ve already watched it, what you thought!
Meg Readz xx