For a book that bills itself on the cover as “The Classic Tale of Romantic Suspense” this isn’t very romantic or suspenseful. This is the third book of Du Maurier’s I’ve read, and the second one to be a massive disappointment for such a big fan of Rebecca.
Jamaica Inn follows Mary Yellan as she moves to the north of England after the death of her mother to live with an aunt she hasn’t seen in years. The vibrant, loving woman Mary remembers from her youth is now a shell, totally dominated by her brutish husband, the landlord of the titular establishment. Jamaica Inn is a disreputable establishment that no decent person will travel to, and Mary is warned by her uncle not to pry into his business.
Tormented by witnessing her uncle’s treatment of her aunt, Mary struggles to think of a way to extricate her relative from the situation. She tries to discover the nature of her uncle’s activities and seeks out potential allies along the countryside. She meets two men who each seem eager to help her, but her feelings toward each are complicated and confuse her.
Eventually, Mary learns her uncle’s secret and the reverberations lead Mary to make a momentous decision.
The set up is fine, but Du Maurier drags out a minimal plot past the breaking point. There’s entire too much description of walks in the country, etc.