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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This gothic is a classic with good reason
JAMAICA INN has been on my "To Be Read" list for many years, so when I found an inexpensive paperback copy, it seemed like fate. Every bit as suspenseful as REBECCA but with a more engaging heroine, it kept me on the edge of my seat almost from the beginning.

Mary Yellan's mother dies, leaving her alone with a farm and no one to help her run it. (Apparently,...
Published on August 28, 2004 by Kelly Cannon Hess

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60 of 78 people found the following review helpful
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. To anyone who wants to read it (luckily I already have) do NOT read the review from the girl from the Netherlands. It will ruin it for you.
Published on January 3, 2000 by Margaret Taylor


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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This gothic is a classic with good reason, August 28, 2004
By 
Kelly Cannon Hess (Dallas, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Jamaica Inn (Mass Market Paperback)
JAMAICA INN has been on my "To Be Read" list for many years, so when I found an inexpensive paperback copy, it seemed like fate. Every bit as suspenseful as REBECCA but with a more engaging heroine, it kept me on the edge of my seat almost from the beginning.

Mary Yellan's mother dies, leaving her alone with a farm and no one to help her run it. (Apparently, in 19th century England, it was unthinkable that a 23-year-old woman should simply hire some help and keep the farm.) She sells up and goes to live in a distant county with an aunt she hasn't seen for ten years, but whom she remembers as pretty and vivacious. The aunt Patience she finds, however, is much changed. Now married to an abusive, drunken tyrant, Patience has relinquished her former self and become a cringing, wheedling shadow to her brutal husband. The couple reside at Jamaica Inn, an infamous establishment that respectable travelers have long abandoned.

The situation deteriorates further when inquisitive Mary discovers her uncle is involved in illegal dealings that include murder. Horrified, she stays at Jamaica Inn only for the sake of her aunt, whom she intends to rescue. She's befriended by the sympathetic vicar of a neighboring parish, and by her uncle's handsome brother, Jem, to whom she feels oddly drawn, despite his questionable livelihood as a horse thief.

In true Gothic style, the story hovers on the edges of believability. It doesn't pay to think too much on any one point. Mary displays the obligatory intelligence, pluck and curiosity of the gothic heroine, yet loses her courage and/or her smarts at just the points where her hesitation advances the plot. The villains of the story are pure evil without clear motivations. Jem is the most realistically drawn character.

But they don't write like Daphne DuMaurier anymore. Her richly descriptive style sets you squarely down in the midst of the Cornish moors, makes you see the stark granite rocks, feel the heavy air closing around you. Her pacing is nearly perfect, dragging only in one or two spots where I think she falters in her effort to prolong suspense. The story moves along so briskly that you're almost hypnotized into not noticing the plot's weaknesses. It certainly isn't hard to shuffle them to the back of your mind.

JAMAICA INN is well worth the read, especially if you're feeling a bit weary of "flavor-of-the-month" fiction. In particular, I found Ms. DuMaurier's portrayal of the local squire as a kind-hearted, blustering dullard interesting. I wonder if that was a reflection of current (1936) British attitudes toward the gentry. In a similar vein, the vicar's thoughts on religion must have been provocative at the time.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jamaica Inn - Daphne du Maurier, November 12, 2006
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Jamaica Inn (Mass Market Paperback)
My friend suggested that I read this book. I wasn't counting on it being anything special but wanted to read it to please my friend. I read the book...........WOW! I was so transfixed, my mind was constantly buzzing with anxcity for Mary, fear of Joss and wonder for the next page. These are just a few of words that describe Jamaica Inn: thrilling, unpredictable, fantastic, drastic, fast, flowing, tense, obscene, moving, amazing, open, striking, descriptive, startling, action, exciting, horriffic, pursuing, dramatic, different, changing and enticing.

In Jamaca Inn you can live with the characters, you are part of the book, and you feel for the characters. The book changes mood so easily. A must read.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best DuMaurier but enjoyable nonetheless, June 23, 2001
By 
Ruth Dubb (Alexandria, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Jamaica Inn (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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Daphne Du Maurier is brilliant, August 2, 2005
This review is from: Jamaica Inn (Mass Market Paperback)
The poetic language and tasteful suspense makes Jamaica Inn and Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier two of my favorite books. Jamaica Inn is a brilliant story, made even more mysterious by Tori Amos' song of the same name. It was her song about the book that made me seek out books by DuMaurier and once again Tori is genius. This was one of the best books I have ever read. Both the book and the song reveal the complexities and horrors of human behavior. DuMaurier also has a rich knowledge of the English countryside and uses fantastic imagery to transport the reader to the moors of Southern England.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic Suspense at its Best, February 6, 2003
This review is from: Jamaica Inn (Mass Market Paperback)
In "Myself When Young", author Daphne DuMaurier tells of a riding expedition on Bodmin Moors where lost and tired, she put up at a local hostelry called Jamaica Inn. "It was my first sight of the place that would later grip my imagination . . . a temperance house in 1920, it had been a coaching stop in the old days, and I thought of the travelers in the past who must have sought shelter there on the wild November nights, watched by the local moorland folk. No temperance house then, but a bar where the little parlor was, the drinking deep and long, fights breaking out, the sounds of oaths, of men falling."

And grip her imagination it did!

Du Maurier brings to life all the sounds and sights she imagined she saw on that day at a wayside inn with so much history. The lonely local, the brooding weather, the harsh tors looming over the moors and the bog, all make for what is now the almost trite accoutrements to any Gothic melodrama. But in Du Maurier's expert hands and imagination, the story that evolves could never be thought hackneyed.

Mary Yellen, a staunch working class young lady must leave her beloved farm on southern coast of Cornwall for the bleaker northern side. Here she will live at lonely Jamaica Inn with her mother's sister Patience and her innkeeper husband, Joss Merlyn. When she arrives, Mary, who prides herself on her good sense, intrinsic goodness and her willingness to work, finds her situation at the inn in dire opposition to anything in which she believes. Her heart breaks when she discovers her aunt has become a shadow of her once frivilous self, broken by the drunken Josh and his rude occupation. Mary's dream of travelers stopping at the inn and taking the usual friendly custom aburptly dissipates when she realizes the inn is no longer in use, but like her aunt, is just a shell of what it once was. Most distressing of all, she concludes that Joss's business is a treacherous and nefarious one which instead of commanding the respect of the local villagers and townspeople, causes them to turn away in helpless fear and disgust. Her guilt by association follows quite naturally and Mary vacillates between what she knows is right and her love of her childlike aunt. In her mind, her future spins out before her, likely to trail in the wake of her aunt's disastrous path.

The light of hope shines in the appearance of the landlord's brother, Jem. A much younger man than Joss, but similar in looks, Mary can well imagine what had enticed her aunt so many years ago. In spite of herself, she finds she has feelings for Jem that she must put aside as she comes to terms with what she must do for her aunt and her community. Like Du Maurier's other female heroines, Mary eventually succumbs to the world of men; she is dependent, knows it and comes to terms with her lot only by accepting her fate.

The story is told in the third person; we eventually discover the secret of Jamaica Inn as Mary does. On all levels, the story and its telling are superior to other books of this genre. Often dismissed as a romantic escape, the novel is nothing of the sort---it rather depicts the marital relationship and other man/woman situations with a violence that is disturbing. Mary does not find romance, she accepts that Jem is no better than another strong male. Another aspect of Du Maurier's fanatastic Cornwall comes alive as it did in her other novels, Rebecca, Frenchman's Creek, My Cousin Rachel and The House of the Strand. As a backup to the book, rent the Jane Seymour mini-series of the same name. The film representation doesn't really do justice to the literature or theme of Jamaica Inn, it relies instead on the brooding atmosphere and desperation of the heroine's plight rather than the true horror of the man/woman relationships.

I have read this book many times, but I find the best way to enjoy it is on unabridged audio--acted by a trained reader brings the words alive and forces you to listen (instead of skipping over) to the passages describing the moors.
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60 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars HELLO?, January 3, 2000
This review is from: Jamaica Inn (Mass Market Paperback)
Excuse me miss 17-year-old from the Netherlands but you just gave away the entire plot of the book. Nice going. Thanks. To anyone who wants to read it (luckily I already have) do NOT read the review from the girl from the Netherlands. It will ruin it for you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and Surprisingly Enthralling Read, November 18, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Jamaica Inn (Mass Market Paperback)
When I decided to read Jamaica Inn, it was through sheer boredom on a rainy afternoon - what perfect weather it turned out to be to read about the dark happenings in cold, windy Cornwall! It is centred around the terrifying and surprising discoveries Mary Yellan, recently orphaned, makes about the goings on at her new home, Jamaica Inn. This book will leaves you constantly surprised, guessing and re-guessing the benevolence of its characters at every turn and makes for an enjoyable tale of mystery and suspense.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gothic tale that rings dark and mysterious to the end., June 4, 2002
By 
Denise Bentley "Kelsana" (The California Redwoods) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Jamaica Inn (Mass Market Paperback)
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. Early on she is warned of strange happenings at the Inn and after one look at the clientele she has learned to lock her door at night. Strange noises deep in the night alert her to the possibility of illegal activity but she remains silent at her aunt's request.
Mary becomes friends with the Vicar, an albino who has taken a bit of a fancy to her, and Jem her uncle's brother who is a rover and a thief. What is there in Mary's future on the moors, so sinister and dreary? Who's groans and cries are heard on the wind, as it washes up from the ocean, and penetrates the fog that lies like a blanket upon the moors?
A true Gothic adventure that will leave you feeling the depth of despair and the chill of the air as you wander the moors in search of the answers. Kelsana 6/4/02
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Example of Suspense, May 7, 2007
This review is from: Jamaica Inn (Mass Market Paperback)
I read this book because someone told me at one of my book signings that Jamaica Inn was the most frightening book she ever read. After reading for several hours right before bed, I awakened terrified, in a cold sweat. Since then, I have studied Du Maurier's style and it is masterful. She has the ability to make the main character feel so real, you imagine you are walking in her shoes. Long after putting the book down, the characters remain with you, as does Jamaica Inn itself and the surrounding countryside. Her books have influenced my own writing. It is a shame that during her lifetime, her books were seen as romance, the pinings of a woman... This is suspense at its very best.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overdone, over long for this fan, February 2, 2012
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This review is from: Jamaica Inn (Mass Market Paperback)
DuMaurier's best works rise above the formulaic romances that have become cliché. Not this one. The protagonist's inner conflict does not spring from the same insight that created "The Scapegoat" or "My Cousin Rachel." This poor girl of the moors is a bore. The most interesting character isn't in the book enough to compensate. Try another one instead.
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Jamaica Inn
Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier (Mass Market Paperback - June 1, 1995)
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