Book Review: Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

“And though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.”

Originally published in 1936, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier follows young Mary Yellan on a bitter November evening who journeys across the rainswept moors to Jamaica Inn in honour of her mother’s dying request. When she arrives, the warning of the coachman begins to echo in her memory, for her aunt Patience cowers before hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn. Terrified of the inn’s brooding power, Mary gradually finds herself ensnared in the dark schemes being enacted behind its crumbling walls — and tempted to love a man she dares not trust.

Rating:

Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is one of my favourite books and I absolutely love her writing. Despite this book being nearly 90 years old, I found it so easy to get into, which I often struggle with when reading more “classic” books.

But I had no trouble with Jamaica Inn and was immediately drawn into the Cornish setting. I live close to Jamaica Inn and have visited it before, so I loved recognising place names and landmarks, and my own town of Bodmin getting a mention or two! Maurier describes her scenic landscapes and the cold and misty weather so well, and I could really get a feel for the treacherous Bodmin Moors.

However, I found the story itself quite lacklustre. Although there were some big events, they didn’t feel very impacting. I did really like the characters, though, and I even thought that the romance worked well which nicely took me by surprise.

While I didn’t love this story, I’m always keen to read more Daphne du Maurier and would definitely consider re-reading it at some point to give it another shot. The characters and the setting are described brilliantly, but I just didn’t find the action exciting enough.

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