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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 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 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 19 November 2006
Set in the desolate landscape of bodmin moor, Du Maurier's second novel is a dark, gothic tale of smuggling, "wrecking" (a British "tradition" which is thankfully no more) and bloodshed in the early nineteenth century.

The story follows a spirited young woman, Mary Yellan; who, after the death of her mother, goes to live with her aunt and bullying tyrant of an uncle in Jamaica Inn. Dark, foreboding and with a fearful reputation amongst the locals, Jamaica Inn immediately impresses itself upon both Mary and the reader as an evil and dangerous place. As the book progresses, Mary's initial suspiscions turn to growing horror as she gradually unravels the mysteries of Jamaica, entangling herself in the dark deeds of her uncle even as she begins to have feelings for his younger brother. As Mary's life hangs in the balance, she turns to a mysterious local vicar for support... but is there anyone she can really trust?

As both a love story and a thrilling mystery, Du Maurier keeps you turning the pages - I often found myself almost unconsciously scanning ahead to find the next twist. You barely have time to enjoy the undeniable quality of Du Maurier's writing as you whizz through the chapters.

Any book that you can't stop reading - even when trying to cook and then eat dinner - definitely deserves 5 stars in my opinion!
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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 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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 10 February 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It’s a true romance in the old-fashioned sense of the word, a rip-roaring yarn of smuggling and mystery on the Cornish coast with the spice of a love angle thrown in for good measure. Daphne du Maurier writes crisply and incisively and winds up the tension with great skill. She is also wonderfully literate unlike some more recent novelists. I must read more.
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on 1 September 2011
?Mary Yellan is a simple country girl (oh how I hate this phrase but it's basically true) and when her mother dies, she goes to live in the eerie Jamaica Inn with her Aunt Patience and Uncle Joss. Mary's memories of Aunt Patience are wonderful: all smiles and laughter but this has changed when she reaches Jamaica Inn and her Uncle Joss is less than inviting. The more time Mary spends with her Uncle, the more she realises there's something no good about him and as the story unfolds we find more than one devious character hiding within this novel.I really really enjoyed this book. My favourite du Maurier is My Cousin Rachel, closely followed by Rebecca but now I just can't decide. The atmosphere du Maurier creates upon Bodmin Moor in Cornwall is brooding, dark and sinister and these qualities are reflected in Mary's Uncle Joss' night time companions. Joss himself is a fantastic creation as he somehow manages to be both terrifying and enigmatic. Other key characters include Joss' brother Jem, who Mary takes a unexpected shine to and the seemingly friendly and all-knowing Vicar of Altarnun. I have to say the Vicar's characterisation is definitely my favourite but can't go into detail why without spoiling the plot and I try not to do that.There's an undercurrent of piracy and smuggling in this novel which ties in with the real history of Jamaica Inn in Cornall and this is what makes the novel even more interesting.
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