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Jamaica Inn [Mass Market Paperback]

3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
By Misfit TOP 500 REVIEWER
"Roads? Who spoke of roads? We go by the moor and the hills, and tread granite and heather as the Druids did before us." Why I have waited so many years to read more of Du Maurier's books I'll never know, but there are definitely more of hers in my immediate reading future!

It's early 19C in Southern Cornwall and Mary Yellen's dying mother asks her to sell the family farm and join her Aunt Patience and her husband at Jamaica Inn in Northern Cornwall. Mary arrives and finds that no respectable person will venture near the inn, nor will the carriages stop there for respite. Her once lively and personable aunt is now a terrified shell of a woman married to drunkard inn owner Joss Merlyn. When Joss prepares to entertain "guests" Mary and her aunt are instructed to stay in their rooms and keep their eyes and ears covered -- although our spunky heroine does peek out the window and sees mysterious comings and goings and Mary suspects smuggling.

Mary also becomes friends with her uncle's younger brother Jem, a ne'er do well horse thief (among other things) and the mysterious albino minister Francis Davey. A mischance on the road on the way home from the village on Christmas Eve puts Mary in the middle of her Uncle and his nefarious companions in the midst of a more gruesome crime than smuggling, thus setting in motion a terrifying set of circumstances building up to a nail biting finish on the Bodmin moors.

While this one got off to a bit of a slow start for me, by the last 50 or so pages I was on the edge of my seat as Du Maurier gradually built up the tension and mystery for a rocking good finish, and a big surprise twist at the end. I really enjoyed the way the author used the spookiness of the moors and the surrounding terrain of Cornwall to set her scenes and it greatly enhanced the feel of the book in general. 4.5/5 stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best DuMaurier but enjoyable nonetheless June 23 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Even if it is not as good as Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, or The Scapegoat (but better than the House on the Strand), it is still a page turner, vivid and descriptive and, in the best DuMaurier tradition, very very dark. That said, my rating would actually be closer to 3 1/2 stars.
Mary Yellan is an appealingly scrappy heroine, if somewhat prone to foolhardy actions. I liked that she had guts and that she could be honest about her feelings about a man she had no business loving. Another plus for this book: I bought her falling in love with the roguish horse thief Jem Merlyn. I myself found him sexy (wish there had been more of him in the book). Their chemistry was a nice reflection of the less benign pairing of Mary's poor Aunt Patience and the brutish Joss Merlyn. Perhaps my favorite line because it spoke volumes in few words is "Now Mary understood why she hated her uncle." Or something to that effect.
DuMaurier goes a little overboard in the description of the moor and the tors, although I admit it is necessary to establish the setting. A big reason I do love DuMaurier books is the strong sense of place and time. I suppose that this particular setting was not as interesting as - say - the estate in Rebecca. I knew so because my eye would dart down the page and the next for quotation marks in the hopes that a conversation would break up the lengthy descriptions.
In short one could do a lot worse than this book in the general realm of fiction but as far as DuMaurier fiction is concerned, one could do somewhat better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great captivating novel of suspense and emotion June 2 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This exciting novel is very deep psychologically. Young and ignorant Mary Yellan is suddenly faced with the terrors and dangers of the world, when her loving mother tragically passes away and she travels to live with her dark and immoral uncle, Joss Merlyn. Not even the wise advice of the coach driver could prevent Mary from disobeying her dying mother's plead that Mary would join her Aunt Patience at Jamaica Inn. And so Mary Yellan's courageous journey begins in the coach heading for Jamaica Inn in the pouring rain. As Mary arrived at Jamaica Inn she already had a sense of the building's dark power, but never did she dream that she would become helplessly entrapped in the inn's vile and crumbling walls. As days turn to weeks, Mary's curiosity for her uncle's mysterious trade grows. Customers are not accepted at Jamaica Inn, instead, during the night, covered wagons arrive at Jamaica Inn carrying strangers and illegal goods. Mary discovers the evilness of the inn and desires to leave it immediately, but she knows that she can't abandon her aunt with her heinous uncle. To add to her troubles, Mary meets the landlord's brother and falls disastrously in love with him. However, this love is tormented by doubts as Jem's behavior changes and clues lead to his guilt of a murder. Mary found him to be so charming, however he is a horse-thief. Can Mary survive this dangerous situation?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dark romance Jan. 1 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Set sometime in early nineteenth century Cornwall, this is a novel about Mary Yellan, a young woman who is left alone in the world when her mother dies. She must go and live with her mother's sister, Aunt Patience and her dark and dangerous husband, Joss Merlyn. They keep the Jamaica Inn on a lonely forbidding spot on the Moors - but no casual passer-by's stop there, nor any coaches. Mary soon learns there is something grim going on. Her uncle is involved in some violent and illicit trade, and there is a sinister person who is directing her uncle's secret business. It would be difficult for Mary to leave, but she won't leave without her Aunt Patience. Despite the violence from Joss, Aunt Patience has turned into a scared, fluttering, fey creature who seems unable to leave. Then there Jem Merlyn, her uncle's much younger brother and for whom Mary begins to feel a conflict of emotion. Can she trust Jem? He is her hated uncle's brother after all. Yet despite this and him being a horse-thief and a care-for-nothing she finds herself falling in love with him.
I really enjoyed this book - the first du Maurier I had read, and it has certainly made me keen to read more.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars great book
A 20th century masterpiece. I've read it several times in my life. Always keeps me engaged.
Published 1 month ago by BGreenwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Great author, good book.
I've loved Daphne Du Maurier for years, ever since seeing the movie version of "Rebecca" as a young girl, and later, reading the novel. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Anne Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gothic tale that rings dark and mysterious to the end.
Mary Yellan is our spunky protagonist who has come to stay with her Aunt Patience and Uncle Joss, and evil man who is the landlord at Jamaica Inn. Read more
Published on June 4 2002 by Denise Bentley
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a Classic but Definitely Worth Reading
For anyone who likes romance and suspense, this book is for you. I agree that sometimes the book drags on, but then so do many classics... Read more
Published on June 3 2001 by Diana
2.0 out of 5 stars Jamaica Inn
An account of the dark reality of life and human nature. A grim way of life in crime, murder, and abuses. The characters are caught in the horrid crimes of the times. Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2000 by Kathy Struewing
3.0 out of 5 stars HELLO?
Excuse me miss 17-year-old from the Netherlands but you just gave away the entire plot of the book. Nice going. Thanks. Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2000 by Margaret Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Although not as deep emotionally as Rebecca, DuMurier did a nice job in changing the setting and time period to one that is totally different. Read more
Published on Dec 7 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars marvellous thriller!
This book tells the story of Mary Yellan, who comes to live at Jamaica Inn, a place with a very bad name. Read more
Published on Nov. 17 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book
A mysterious, thrilling , romantic novel. You can see one character's fear in his jumpy movement, hear another's anger in his dirty talk. Read more
Published on Oct. 5 1999
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