Jamaica Inn by the English writer Daphne du Maurier is a classic. The story begins with 20 year-old Mary Yellan making her way to Jamaica Inn in a horse drawn coach, the darkness of the moors and the beating rain making her very anxious.
Mary lived on a farm in Helford but had to leave after her mother died. As she was dying she asked Mary to go live with her Aunt Patience at Jamaica Inn. The journey to her aunt is anything but comforting.
Upon arrival Mary finds her aunt a different person fro the sparkling, witty laughing woman she remembered. Aunt Patience seems aged 50 years and mutters constantly. She is clearly frightened of something and Mary comes to realize very quickly what, or shall I say who, is the reason. Mary’s Uncle Joss is a wicked man and he has illegal business affairs right there at the inn.
The plot follows a group of murderous wreckers, Joss seemingly one who is in charge. They run ships aground using lanterns on the shore and kill the sailors then steal the cargo. Jamaica Inn is never open to the public yet every few weeks men come in the dark of the night, silently unloading carts of merchandise they have stolen from the wrecked ships.
Mary foolishly becomes attracted to Joss’s younger brother, Jem. She realizes Jem does not have anything to do with her uncle’s murderous business although he is a horse thief.
One day Mary decides to track her uncle across the moors so she can report the lot of them to the law. But it gets dark earlier than she thought it would and Mary is stranded, cold and wet and alone in the dark. Miraculously a horse drawn buggy comes along and she is rescued. Francis Davey, an albino vicar who lives in the next village, picks Mary up and takes her to his home. She tells the vicar the improbable tale of her uncle’s business expecting him to help her. He instead points out some weak points in her story and suggests she is letting her imagination get away from her.
There is much more but if you haven’t read Du Maurier’s classic, I don’t want to give away the rest of the story. Soon I would like to read her other popular book, Rebecca.
What would you like to eat if you were arriving on a damp, cold wintery evening to a near deserted inn on the moors? I would want a hot brisket dinner and loads of tea!
This book was on my list for the following challenges: