by Daphne Du Maurier
Plot Summary:The coachman tried to warn her away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast. But young Mary Yellan chose instead to honor her mother's dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn. From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn's dark power. But never did Mary dream that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls -- or that a handsome, mysterious stranger would so incite her passions ... tempting her to love a man whom she dares not trust.
Review:In this atmospheric, sinister tale, the main character, Mary, must confront the evil doings of her Uncle-in-Law Joss and find a way to bring him to justice while also sparing her downtrodden, nervous Aunt Patience. The story builds slowly as more and more is revealed of Jamaica Inn and Joss's activities. When you think it can't get worse, things definitely get worse. This is such a wonderfully dark story with glimpses of light in Mary's strength of character. Mary stands up for herself and has a very determined personality, but she is a little naive and jumps to a few conclusions very easily. Although there is romance in this story it moves very quickly and doesn't seemed based on a true connection. And it's not even very romantic since the object of Mary's affection is a little suspicious himself, and in one scene of the novel leaves Mary stranded without a word or money in a town at night.
Though the story is very engaging, there were issues I had personally with the very misogynistic aspect of the story. Even though Mary is the strongest character she proves largely ineffective in what she is trying to accomplish (the men accomplish it of course), and when she visits the man she comes to love (her very first visit!), he tells her to cook dinner for him, but first she cleans his kitchen because she can't cook in that pigsty. Seriously. Mary makes claims that she would rather be a man and live and work alone, but she disappointingly succumbs to feminine weakness more than once. The other female characters in this story are all pretty weak as well, especially feeble, doting Aunt Patience. It seems to me that this story shows how terrible the influence of a man can be.
Yet even after that rather depressing aspect to this story, I think it is a very entertaining read, with a mystery that sort of sneaks up on the reader, because it wasn't every clear that there was even a mystery brewing in the tale. The writing is top notch, and illustrates the stark beauty of Jamaica Inn's lonely surroundings very well. It paints a picture thoroughly and allows the reader to delve into Mary's mind completely. It's an overwrought, daring and captivating read.
Now on to watch Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of this novel!