What do you do when your mum dies and tells you to go live with your aunt and her husband who is a complete thug and also the landlord of a remote pub that no sensible person would set foot inside? Who do you trust when you suspect he’s committing many crimes? The local vicar? Or your uncle’s good-looking, charming, horse thieving brother? This is the choice Mary must face when her world is turned upside down and she accidentally enters the dangerous world of Cornish smuggling.
This was my second of Du Maurier’s ‘Cornwall’ books and I loved it, mainly because a lot of the place names were familiar to us because of where we were staying (sadly, I did not convince our holiday party to go to the ACTUAL Jamaica Inn, but we did explore some caves on Trebarwith Strand which I could TOTALLY see as smuggler caves.)
This novel was very different from My Cousin Rachel; the landscape was just as much a part of the story as the feisty Mary Yellan (who, along with The Woman in White’s Marian Halcombe and Agnes Grey, now forms part of my Trilogy of Female Badasses in Classic Novels).
Oh, Mary. I love her so much.
She refuses to be bullied or cowed by her wicked uncle and always works hard to try and rescue her Aunt Patience, who would drive lesser beings to a constant state of irritation. She’s tough and unafraid to walk the wild Cornish moors IN THE DARK and survives multiple attacks and general sucky luck. She’s amazing.
Reading these Cornish novels back to back, I now understand two things: Daphne Du Maurier’s absolute devotion to her adopted home of Cornwall (I felt it too- such an amazing place and I plan to go back there one day to visit her home at Fowey) and also why her fans are so devoted to her work. There’s something about Du Maurier’s work that envelops you as a reader and I felt myself irresistibly pulled into the novel, desperate to find time to read it. In fact, I finished this a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve needed time to process it. I’m also making plans to get hold of the 1939 film and maybe the BBC drama from a couple of years ago that no one could hear properly (I rely on subtitles anyway because of an auditory processing disorder, so no big deal for me!)
Did I guess who the Big Baddy was? Yes.
Was I still surprised by some of what happened? Yes.
Did I guess the ending? Yup.
Did I care? No.