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The Girl and The Inn Keeper and Cornwall

Jamaica Inn” was part of my December reading event for Goodreads Women’s Classic Literature Enthusiasts. I already was extremely disappointed with “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier and I had hoped that since my opinion of her work was based on only one book, I should keep an open mind and re-read this one.

The book is set in 1820 in Cornwall around a pub house that apparently still exists or at least used to when Daphne Du Maurier wrote the novel. Mary Yellan has recently been orphaned and her mother’s dying wish is that she sells the farm and goes and stays with her aunt Patience who lives with her husband Joss Merlyn, an Inn Keeper at Jamaica Inn. Mary sells her farm at Helford and travels to reside with her uncle and aunt. She soon discovers that her happy once happy aunt has become a dithering, scared and silly fool under the constant treat and bullying from her husband Joss Merlyn. Mary soon discovers that under the guise of Inn keeping Joss Merlyn actually does illegal smuggling by wrecking ships of Cornish cost. She realizes that her uncle is completely ruthless when one night she over hears him giving order of a murder of one his team members who disagreed with him. Worried about her aunt’s safety and eager to get out of her uncle’s clutches, she concocts various plans to escape from Jamaica Inn; but these go awry as she discovers kinship with Jem Merlyn, the younger brother of her uncle. Confused as to whether to trust Jem or not, she turns for advise to Francis Davey,Vicar of Altarum, an Albino gentleman with all kinds of unforeseen results!

Where do I begin??!! The cast in itself is really bad and clichéd. Mary Yellan enters Jamaica Inn for the first time and is immediately scared of her uncle, then before you can blink your eye, she is defending her aunt? Where does this courage come from and if it was there, why was she so scared in the beginning? She is constantly confused – like Jem/don’t like Jem!! Ye Gods!! Joss Merlyn is the arch-typical villain who has more strength than brains – no prize there for any originality; nor is there any real charm in Jem Merlyn except he is a crook of lower order – his brother kills people( heinous of course!) and Jem steals horses ( a much less horrific crime), but a lesser crime is no excuse for committing it none the less! The worst was characterization was Francis Davey – nonsensical, clichéd and without any foundation. The plot drags and drags and at one point you just want Mary to die or something instead of sitting through another chapter of her traipsing through Cornwall moors. The only redeeming feature of the book is the description of Cornwall and the dark mood that Ms. Du Maurier is able to create through inclement weather and the planning and execution of horrific crimes. That alone provides relief in an otherwise very ordinary work.

Daphne Du Maurier just does not improve on closer acquaintance. I am glad this re-read is over and I am NOT touching a Du Maurier for some time!

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. You know I did not like this book either, found it so full of cliche and not that great of a love story either. That it was a reread for you! Well you get all kinds of good book karma for sticking it through to the end!

    January 3, 2015
    • hahhahha…Stefanie!! I love the concept of Good Book Karma…I must remember it every time I read a bad book! But I completely agree, the love story was vacuous and the whole books seemed like a rush job!!

      January 3, 2015
  2. Hee, hee, hee! I really shouldn’t say this but I really love when you read terrible books because I then get to chuckle over your reviews! ;-P

    Okay, on the strength of just your review, I will stand in your corner and not touch another du Maurier either. Rebecca seriously made me so frustrated that I wanted to …… I can’t even mention what I wanted to do. Life is really too short to waste on these types of books. Once I get through all the classics I DO want to read, perhaps then I’ll reconsider.

    Great review …… ha, ha …… still chuckling ……… !

    January 3, 2015
    • Hahahhhahaheheeeee….Glad to provide some entertainment 😉 at least there is some comfort in knowing that there is some fun after plodding through utter rubbish!! I AM SO NOT reading Du
      Maurier even if its the last book on earth!!

      January 3, 2015
    • P.S. I do really appreciate the solidarity!!!

      January 3, 2015
  3. I’ve read this – I really did not like it either, but it was marginally more bearable than Frenchman’s Creek.

    That said, I really love Rebecca! Even so, I’ve no plans to explore du Maurier’s novels. 🙂

    January 3, 2015
    • You know I was telling someone else the other day that for each of us reading is deeply personal and how I see a book versus how you might read and interpret it also deeply personal. I completely understand your liking for Rebecca and a lot of people I know do! But one has to admit, via law of averages, Ms. Du Maurier is fatiguing to read through!! I am not going to even venture near Frenchman’s Creek!!! 😉

      January 3, 2015

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