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VINE VOICEon 19 June 2009
This isn't the sort of book I'd normally pick up, but on a fairly recent visit to the South West, I visited the Jamaica Inn. After eating there and having a look around the gift shop and noting the tourists swarming around, I thought I'd better find out exactly what all the fuss was about. And so I got hold of a copy of this book. I'm glad I did.

Though Daphne du Maurier is best known for her novel Rebecca, Jamaica Inn appealed more to me because of having been to the place. Though it's undoubtedly changed considerably since du Maurier's time, I can definitely still see how it must have affected her all those years ago. Looking out across the horizon where the moors stretch, I can see how foreboding it must have been; less the hundreds of tourists, village and nearby dual carriageway.

Jamaica Inn is the story of Mary Yellan. Recently orphaned, Mary grants her mother's dying wish by travelling across Cornwall to go and live with her Aunt Patience at Jamaica Inn, a lonely inn on the Bodmin to Launceston road. However, before arriving, Mary hears all kinds of odd tales about the goings-on at the inn, mainly stories to do with the horrible man that it appears her aunt has married. Sure that the people are exaggerating and her uncle is merely misunderstood, Mary continues on her way. But shortly after arriving at her new home, Mary realises that she has made a mistake. The once-happy Patience is now a shadow of her former self, skulking around and pandering to her husband's every whim. It would appear that the rumours she'd heard were true.

There are few visitors to the inn, and the people that do come are just like her Uncle Joss, loud, uncouth and intimidating. Mary also suspects they're up to no good, particularly as her sharp mind starts to question the constant coming and going of carts in the middle of the night, and the reason there's a locked and barred room in the inn. On questionning her aunt, Mary learns little more, but enough to know just how terrified of her husband she is and that what he gets up to on those dark nights is deeply criminal. Mary starts to plot how she can get herself and her aunt away from the brooding presence of Jamaica Inn and it's evil landlord without being implicated in the activities taking place there...

It's very difficult to categorise this book as it doesn't fit neatly into a genre. It's action-packed, is pacey and also contains a love interest and deception. There's a bit of everything in here and it is excellent. I feel most readers would find this book fascinating, particularly if you've been, or plan to visit, the Jamaica Inn. I'd recommend both - that is, reading the book and visiting the inn.
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on 16 August 2001
I first starting reading this book in 1971 for cse studies at school although I only read about a third of the story. Now, thirty years on I felt that I needed to read it and see what the story was really about and am so glad that I have. I found the story to be interesting, and anyone who likes murder, mystery and suspense, with a hint of romance, then take a step back in time and get absorbed within this twisting tale. Truly, I found it magnificent and unable to put the book down.
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on 18 August 2001
I first read this book when I was in my teens, along with all of Daphne Du Maurier's other novels. It is a very suspenseful work and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It also really evokes the beauty of the Cornish countryside.
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on 28 February 2007
I defy anyone not to be gripped by the opening chapter where the heroine, Mary Yellan is travelling to Jamaica Inn by stagecoach on a winter's night battling the wind and rain. Like her other books Du Maurier draws the setting, Bodmin Moor in Cornwall brilliantly and this coupled with a feisty heroine and a giant rogue of a villain in her uncle, the landlord of Jamaica Inn all make for a great read. The Inn itself, hinted at early on as being a sinister place, does not disappoint and I was totally drawn into the dark goings on as Mary slowly unravels its secrets and that of her uncle.
Rebecca is better but this is still an excellent book and will keep you hooked to the twistingly brilliant ending. Faultless writing by, in my opinion, the master storyteller.
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on 2 March 2000
So many times I have driven past Jamaca Inn, the wide open moorland has not changed over the years, the Innn is a true place it really exsists, Now it is hard to think of the place back in the early 1800s its now a friendly place to visit so warm,the wreckers have gone but the church at Alternum still stands and for those who have read this thrilling tale of how things might have been in 19th centuary Cornwall stands as a reminder of the Rev Davey. Pick this book up and you will never put it down until you have finished, and then you will want to read it again. As a true Cornishman I can tell you that this book is well worth the read,
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on 25 January 2007
Like Wuthering Heights, the scenery and setting in this brooding book are extremely important, creating and refelcting mood. Here, rather than the Yorkshire Moors, it's Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. Within these bleak and hostile moors sits the solitary and isolated inn of the title (still there in real life), presided over by the frightening and cruel drunkard, Joss Merlyn. But is he the real villain, or is he just being used by an even more powerful force?

What I particulalty like about this book is that it's set in Victorian times, reads very much like a Victiorian novel, but is not blunted by that era's strict censorship (Jamaica Inn was published in the - slightly- freer 1930s). Mary and Jem actually do frolic quite suggestively, despite not being married, and this behaviour is not damned by the narrative.

It is interesting that Hitchcock made films of three Du Maurier works. As well as Jamaica Inn, The Birds and Rebecca are also based on her stories. He must have been a fan.
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on 21 June 2010
The very positive point in this novel was the description of Cornwall. The area around Bodmin and Launceston can be very bleak, and univiting. Daphine Du Maurier gives excellent descriptions of the landscape and the harsh winter weather,you almost shiver from thje cold rain and strong winds. The bleakness of the landscape comes across very well.
The story is moderately strong, but as one reviewer wrote in a previous comment it does lose its impetus in the middle of the book.It is not as gripping as Rebecca, but nonthe less it is still a good read, with an expected ending. I did find the character of Mary rather ambivalent, moving from fierce determination to complete complicity.
I felt that it was a novel well worth reading, and would class it just under the semi classic line
Jamaica Inn still exists to-day, though it is a very different hostelry now, though the landscape is still as harsh to-day as it was in the nineteenth century.
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on 19 February 2000
This is no romance novel whatever some critics say. There is nothing lovey-dovey about Jamaica Inn. This is a story of struggle and despair and of hope and of trust and betrayal. Anyone with a liking for sinister dealings and of rough love will enjoy this classic. Mary does fall in love but not in a nasty sickly way. It is unexpected and unwanted and with a man she knows she ought not trust. Amazing.
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on 1 May 2007
Jamaica Inn is not in the same league as "Rebecca" and some of the actions of the heroine seem slightly unlikely. However the descriptions of Bodmin Moor are evocative and the relatively straight forward plot makes for a good page turner especially suitable for a Cornwallian holiday. One word of warning though - I would not read the introduction until afterwards as it gives too much away; why publishers do this I do not know!
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on 29 November 2009
The story is of Mary Yellan. Her mother's dying wish was for her to go and live with her Aunt and Uncle at Jamaica Inn. Mary's Uncle is a large fearsome character who drinks to drown his sorrows and guilt at his crimes. Her Aunt is a woman who has become just a tiny portion of her former self after years of being down trodden. Mary is the strong character in between who is determined to put things right and in doing so also save her Aunt from her appalling existence. Mary also falls in love along the way.

The things I like about the book are the excellent way Du Maurier portrays the harsh life living on the moors, you can really feel as though you are there and it is quite haunting. I found all the charactors well established and believable. There are plenty of times in the story where you are gripped by the high suspense. I just loved the atmosphere of the book - you know you are in for a dark read and it delivers. Read it in the winter when you can hear the wind and rain battering against your windows - I did and it was excellent!

The things I was not so keen on where that I sometimes I questioned Mary's actions. An exmaple of this is towards the end of the book when she made her trip to see Francis Davey from her bedroom above the porch, how did she propose to get back in as she had locked the bedroom door from the inside and there was no way of climbing back up the porch - we know this from when Jem visited earlier? (you will see what I mean when you read it). Sometimes the story is a little slow but this is a minor point. I also was a little disappointed with the ending, I would have preferred more of a compromise from Jem (but I do not want to give too much away for those who have not read it) Yes she loved him and apparently he did her, but he seemed unwilling to change at all and it was almost a matter of if we are going to be together it is my way or no way and she just went along with it. Difficult to accept when she has been so headstrong throughout the book. But these things are just my view and all in all it is a very good read, I would recommend this book and I would also love to visit Jamaica Inn as a result.
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