First print: 1935
Theft and murder in a deserted hotel.
After her parents have died, Mary Yellan, 22 leaves Helford to go to her aunt Patience, the only relative she now has. Her aunt is married to Joss Merlyn, the landlord of Jamaica Inn, which is between Bodmin and Launceston in a wild and empty part of Cornwall. From the coach driver and other people, Mary learns that the Inn has a bad reputation.
Her uncle appears to be a bully, resembling a gipsy, always nagging his wife. Aunt Patience is a nervous and silent woman who, in spite of her treatment, is loyal to her husband. Although Mary has had strict orders from her uncle never to look out of her window at night , she sees a group of men under her window unloading big packets from a waggon.
One Saturday night a motley company of tramps, poachers, thieves, cattle-stealers and gipsies visit the inn and Mary has to help her uncle at the bar. She overhears a violent quarrel between her uncle and a visitor. Next morning she finds a rope, slung through a hook in the ceiling. Mary concludes that somebody was hanged. Moreover, a mysterious man has spent the night in a locked room. Mary meets Joss's brother Jem, who makes a more favourable impression on Mary than his brother. One day Mary follows her uncle to find out what sort of business he is engaged in. She loses her way and is take home by the vicar of Altarnun, Francis Davey, an albino.
Back home she finds her uncle drunk. He tells her about the nature of his activities. When a ship is wrecked he and his men light fires on the beach. When the passangers and the crew have swum to the beach they are killed and robbed of all their possessions.
On Christmas Eve Mary accompanies Jem to Launceston; he has dared her to come with him to sell a stolen horse. Jem has stolen it from Mr. Basset, the magistrate, and now sells it to the magistrate's wife. In a silent street Jem kisses Mary who feels that she loves him. When he leaves her to arrange some business, he does not turn up again. She is taken home by Mr. Davey's coach. Near Jamaica Inn the coach is attacked by Joss Merlyn and his men. The driver is killed and Mary is forced to witness the killing and robbing of people from a ship. When the men suddenly become aware of the daylight they panic and Mary escapes. She walks all the way to Launceston to warn Mr. Basset. From Mrs. Basset she learns that the police are on their way to the Jamaica Inn.
At the Inn Mary finds her uncle and aunt killed. She spends the weeks that follow at the vicarage. She wonders what part Jem has played all the time. During a conversation the vicar tells her that Jem found a nail near Jamaica Inn. It belonged to a horse shoe. a neighbouring smith told him that he had had a customer only on the day of the murders, a Sunday. That was the vicar of Altarnun! The vicar confesses to Mary that he had been the leader of the gang. He has always hated people because of their weaknesses. He is the man who spent a night at the Inn and inspired Joss with great fear. Now he wants to run run away with Mary, but during their flight he is killed by Jem. Mary and Jem leave the district where the young woman had had such terrible experiences.
Mary Yellan - Hoofdfiguur
Joss Merlyn - De oom van Mary
Patience Merlyn - De tante van Mary
Jem Merlyn - De broer van de oom van Mary
Francis Davey - Albino Vicar
Mr. Basset - Magistrate
Jamaica Inn, that's the name of the hotel where the story takes place.
Jamaica Inn is a romantic novel with love and adventure as its main ingredients. Mary Yellan, the main character, seems to be a rather innocent girl at the beginning of the story but soon turns out to be a courageous and strong-willed girl who is determined to protect her aunt and not to give in to her villainous uncle. At the same time she has a love-hate relationship with her uncle's brother.
The story is situated on the dangerous Cornwell coast. Jamaica Inn is an isolated spot, the ideal haunt for thieves and murderers. The rough landscape with its desolate moors, gigantic rocks and stormy coast forms a suitable background to this exciting story. The events in the book take place in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Point Of View
The point of view is Mary Yellan, the reader sees everything through her eyes.
Isolation, desolation, theft, murder.
Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) began to write when she was a young girl and published her first novel The loving spirit in 1931. She became a popular novelist because of her uncommon story-telling ability and her excellent prose style. Her best-known novels are Jamaica Inn (1935) and Rebecca (1938). Also her collection of short stories The birds and other stories is worth reading. The title story was made into a horror film by Alfred Hitchcock.
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