All right, I know I blogged a Daphne Du Maurier book a few weeks ago, but that was a horror novella and this one is a historical suspense novel. Very different tone here! Ahem. I warned you that I was prone to binge on authors and seeing as Du Maurier is one of my favorites it was only inevitable. Do not judge me.
As with all of the Du Maurier stories I've read, the best part of this novel is the atmosphere that she creates. Du Maurier had an amazing talent for creating suspense in her plots and she certainly does that in Jamaica Inn. There were several parts in this novel that had me on the edge of my seat as Mary attempts to find out her brutal uncle's secret. Du Maurier also does a wonderful job of vividly portraying the wild Cornish countryside where this story is set. (In fact, there is a real Jamaica Inn in Cornwall that you can still visit today.) The wild moors and rural countryside come alive in Du Maurier's narration.
The plot concerning Joss's mysterious past is intriguing and he is a great villain. He's a character you just love to hate. Mary herself is a plucky heroine, especially considering the restraints that early 19th century society place upon her. Though the plot details are unique and intriguing, the basic characters are all ones you've seen before--dastardly villain, innocent heroine, charming rogue, etc. And though I wasn't 100% sure, I had an inkling how the plot would turn out about fifty pages from the end, which is the first time that's happened to me in a Du Maurier novel. Daphne always keeps me in the dark to the very end. But this was one of her earlier novels, so I assume she was still refining her craft with this novel. That didn't lessen my enjoyment, though. I am a big fan of Gothic novels, which this novel basically is. Just because I recognized some of the characters didn't make the book any less enjoyable. In fact, it added to the fun, sort of like seeing old friends. (Not that I have old friends who are demented criminals . . . )
If you're looking for an engaging tale of suspense this summer and like eerie Gothics, try Jamaica Inn. It's a great introduction to Du Maurier's work, though I still like Rebecca better. But read it only if you dare uncover the secrets of Jamaica Inn yourself . .. ^^
Next Week: I have no earthly idea. The marathon reading sessions continue . . .
This Week in Literary History:
24 July 1901: Short story writer O Henry gets released from prison after building 3 years for embezzlement. Henry had issues, as the jail term may have tipped you off, but he crafted some fascinating short stories, the best known of which is "The Gift of the Magi." O. Henry had a knack for twist endings and irony. He's one of my favorites. Check him out if you've never read any of his work before.