Here’s my 8th post for the 2015 Classics Challenge and the 24th stop on the Daphne du Maurier blog tour!
In the bitter November wind, Mary Yellan crosses Bodmin Moor to Jamaica Inn. Her mother’s dying wish was that she take refuge there, with her Aunt Patience. But when Mary arrives, the warning of the coachman echoes in her mind: Jamaica Inn has a desolate power, and behind it’s crumbling walls Patience is a changed woman, cowering before her brooding, violent husband. When Mary discovers the inn’s dark secrets, the truth is more terrifying than anything she could possibly imagine, and she is forced to collude in her uncle’s murderous schemes. Against her will, she finds herself powerfully attracted to her uncle’s brother, a man she dares not trust.
WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I read Rebecca in early 2012 and adored it, so it was about time to pick up another Daphne du Maurier! Virago got in touch to offer copies of Rebecca, Frenchman’s Creek or Jamaica Inn as part of the blog tour to celebrate the new adult (left) and young adult (right) editions of the books.
WHY I Chose to Read It
I have already read and reviewed Rebecca. As for Frenchman’s Creek, I don’t know how I feel about pirates. But it has received such as glowing response on the blog tour that I might now be persuaded to try it. I enjoyed the quiet suspense of Rebecca, and Jamaica Inn sounded closest to that – a thrilling mystery set on the Cornish moors. Who can resist a dangerous world of smuggling and murder?
WHAT Makes It A Classic
Daphne du Maurier writes Gothic fiction full of mystery and suspense. She takes common themes from the classics and makes them feel a little more invigorated, even though it’s set in the 1820s – and with even more drizzly treacherous moors than in Wuthering Heights. In Jamaica Inn, the gloomy, foreboding atmosphere is as prominent as the bleak events that occur, as Mary Yellan struggles with the problem of her uncle Joss and his dangerous company.
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
Jamaica Inn was deliciously dark; much darker and violent than I thought it would be, even with the promise of smuggling and murder! I adored our protagonist Mary, only 23 and incredibly determined. She’s instantly undeterred by her terrifying uncle, Joss. And I unexpectedly found myself understanding why Mary was drawn to his young brother, Jem, even as she says: He stood for everything she feared and hated and despised; but she knew she could love him. But perhaps I don’t love Gothic literature as much as I thought I did. I did not find myself rushing to get back to the story, similar to my experience of reading Northanger Abbey and the (second half of) Wuthering Heights earlier this year. Perhaps I find that the tension works much better for me with visuals on screen? But nonetheless, the twists kept me interested right up until the explosive ending.
WILL It Stay A Classic
I forget how old Daphne du Maurier’s books actually are. Her prose is so accessible that her stories could have been published for the first time this year. Jamaica Inn was published nearly 80 years ago and it is still as readable as ever, so I can see Daphne du Maurier’s novels still being read years from now. Hopefully the new YA editions will enable teenagers to discover her too! I’ll still be checking out more novels from her.
WHO I’d Recommend It To
People who love Gothic stories like Wuthering Heights, Northanger Abbey and Jane Eyre. People who love adventure, mystery and romance. People who want to read accessible classics. People who love bad boys!