(Image from Goodreads. My copy didn’t have a competition on it!)
I bought this book at one of the Angus & Robertson book stalls that randomly appear and disappear in Aussie shopping centres. To me, they’re always worth a look because of the cheap paperbacks and the opportunity to try new authors. I had heard of Rebecca before buying Jamaica Inn, but decided to give this a go because Rebecca wasn’t available. Coffee Stained Pages rated this book very highly, and I trust Dominique’s reviews so I thought I needed to dust it off the TBR shelves.
My first impression was of Wuthering Heights– you’ve got the moors, the dark and evil uncle, brooding buildings…but it was the sheer cruelty that got to me. Joss and others are cruel and careless of human life just like in Wuthering Heights. I think a psychiatrist could have some in depth analysis with the characters in this book!
Jamaica Inn is set in the 1820s and focuses on a lonely inn in Cornwell where Mary Yellan is forced to move to stay with her aunt after the death of her mother. She finds her aunt a shade of her former self, dominated by Joss Merlyn. Mary realises early on that Joss is up to no good, nor is his brother Jem (who cheerfully admits that he is a horse stealer). Mary experiences Joss’s cruelties first hand and when she tries to make a stand, she finds that not all is as it seems at Jamaica Inn…
This is a dark book with very little hope and light for the characters. Mary appears to be stuck, with little way to turn to escape. It’s not an uplifting read, though interesting for the crime of smuggling and destruction of sailing ships. (I’m not giving much away by telling you that, Mary herself guesses it quite early in the peace). I’m interested to read Rebecca now to see how it compares. Du Maurier writes very vividly and I think she could tell a ghost story very well.
7.5 out of 10.