Jamaica Inn

Time for a quick book review in amidst the Gibtours and food posts.

Daphne du Maurier is a good read, which is always a useful advantage for an author. Sort of midway between Mills and Boon and Tolstoy.

I couldn’t remember whether I had read Jamaica Inn before, but I took it from the library anyway. Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek, they all sound the same to me and on the lines of “Watch the wall, my darling, while the gentlemen go by.” They probably don’t recite that one at school any more, so for any youthful readers, Rudyard Kipling’s poem is about smuggling.

But onto the plot. Our exceedingly plucky heroine Mary, sells the family farm on the death of her mother and goes to live with her aunt at – Jamaica Inn.

However it is a strange sort of inn as no-one ever stops there. Her aunt’s husband, the landlord and the villain of the story, is a typical dark brooding giant of a man, who abuses his wife and admires Mary’s assertive character. Mary is provided with board and lodging in return for helping around the place.

You know from the word go that this is obviously a smugglers’ HQ, so I’m not giving anything away by saying that. The inn opens on the few nights when there is business to be done.

Naturally the lovely Mary attracts some attention from men. She is spoilt for choice between the strange and spooky albino vicar, and the landlord’s younger brother, who, amongst his other talents, is a horse thief.

Mary seems to spend half her time tramping the Cornish moors, and by amazing co-incidence, either encountering the vicar or the younger brother on her travels.

But that’s child’s play compared with taking on the murderous smugglers in the middle of the night on the treacherous Cornish coast. I wish I had half this woman’s guts. I can’t imagine doing what she did, and I’m not sure I know anyone who would either. As a female character, she is amazingly strong and courageous, which is A Good Thing.

The novel’s plot is pretty thin. It must be, because even I worked it out before the end and I am notoriously slow on plots. But in terms of action and writing, it’s a great read. I picked it up, and read through the 300 pages in one afternoon without putting it down.

On which basis, I would recommend it. Plot isn’t everything, what is the point of a good plot in a badly written book? Readability and style are often more important.

Note – the introduction by Sarah Dunant in the version I read was also good, but I do leave introductions until I have finished the book as they ALWAYS give too much away. I don’t know why they don’t put them at the end.

Plot – thin and obvious (as above)
Style – good
Pace – excellent

An interesting smuggling post


22 comments on “Jamaica Inn

  1. Aha! before the bypass, did exactly that, we’d pass it en route to our Cornish holiday destination, thoughts of smugglers foremost in my mind, I always thought it looks very spooky.
    Never read the book though.


  2. I haven’t read this one. I loved ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ and hated ‘Rebecca’ (‘Grow a pair, woman, for goodness’ sake!’ was my constant refrain at the second missus). I might give it a go.


    • Your conscience is working overtime today :D

      It’s an easy read, great for the weekend, or whenever else you can grab a few hours, no more no less.

      I did review some short stories by her, including ‘the birds’ on the book review page. I feel like I have to go back and read F creek and Reb now :D


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