First published in 1936. This edition published by Virago in 2006
Challenges - RIP, A to Z Title and 100 books
First few lines.
It was a cold grey day in late November. The weather had changed overnight, when a backing wind brought a granite sky and a drizzling rain with it, and although it was now only a little after two o'clock in the afternoon the pallor of a winter evening seemed to have closed up on the hills, cloaking them in mist. It would be dark by four.
I will admit to having had a very decisive view on the quality of Daphne Du Maurier books before I had even read a page. I had classified her up there with Catherine Cookson and had vowed never to read one of her books. I now realise I was being a real ignoramus. Daphne Du Maurier is a legend and I intend to devour every book she has ever written.
From the first chapter of this book, I was completely immersed. Daphne's style of writing just draws you in, with her descriptive passages. The book is set in Cornwall and has the air of a thrilling gothic drama to it. I insist that all who read this, set the scene first, by saving it for a dark and stormy night, just to add your own personal sound effects. I refused to read it during daylight hours, as it is a book that needs darkness to be read to it's full effect.
The story begins with Mary on a sad and desperate journey to her aunt's home after the death of her mother. Before arriving, she is forewarned about the reputation of her new home, Jamaica Inn. Mary arrives with trepidation,to a dark and forbidding inn, standing lonely on the moors, only to be greeted by her evil uncle, whose reputation travels before him. Mary is shocked to find her aunt so different from the frivolus and carefree one she remembered. Her aunt has been overpowered by her brooding husband and Mary vows to take care of her. The inn is a dark place to live in, with lots of evil seeping out through the walls. Mary is so disgusted by the antics of her uncle and his shady colleagues, that she makes plans to get her uncle arrested to pay for his crimes.
Mary is a very strong female character. She is not afraid to stand up to her uncle and his friends. She risks her own life in order to seek justice. Her only stumbling block is the brooding younger brother of her uncle. Whilst looking at Jem, she realises how her aunt fell into such a disastrous marriage , as Jem is an exact replica of his brother and she can feel herself falling in love. The book shows how strong Mary is as she battles relentlessly against her uncle. He finds her attractive and interesting as she does not bow down to his demands. In return, Mary is repulsed by her uncle and fights to keep him at a distance.
I just loved this book. I could not put it down. To me, each paragraph seemed to be so finely tuned. As you read the book, you find the writing just flows. I felt that this book really stands the test of time and could have been written in our present era.
I loved comparing Joss Merlyn, Mary's uncle with his younger brother Jem. Jem is exactly like his brother used to be and with his roguish charm, you can easily see why Mary's aunt was so easily led.
This book is full of darkness, disaster, destruction and death, definitely a book I would read again.
A friend of mine, who has urged me to read Daphne Du Maurier for the last two years, was overjoyed at defeating my hostility and has now lent me Rebecca to read. As I understand, Rebecca is by far the best book Daphne Du Maurier ever written, so I shall soon be diving in. I know quite a few of you have Jamaica Inn on your list of possible books for the RIP challenge and I would highly recommend that you read it.