Review: Jamaica Inn
I am surprised by the many positive goodreads reviews of this novel. I thought it was awful, really awful. I read a sentence aloud to my husband at one point and he said, “Was this written by a 16 year-old girl?” And I have to admit, I might have been able to write this when I was 16, if I had applied myself to the task.
It’s not even that the plot is “over the top,” because believe me, I’ve read over the top. If someone reading this review is interested in a gothic novel that’s poorly written, began most of the cliches that are included here, and is truly over the top, you should try Matthew Lewis’s The Monk or the totally insane Zofloya by Charlotte Dacre. Honestly, Jamaica Inn is not even really as over the top as Wuthering Heights, which it seems to be riffing on. The prose here reads like a romance novel, at least as far as I can tell, since I don’t usually read romance novels. And everyone calls each other by both their first and last names, *every time* they address each other. What’s up with that.
Jamaica Inn has a pretty conventional and very predictable gothic plot, with obvious characterizations. Plus it’s just logically flawed from the start: it’s nice that Mary is a fairly independent heroine, but it doesn’t make any sense at all why she would stay so long at Jamaica Inn. Because of her aunt, who she met *one time* before? Maybe I’m just hard-hearted, but I’m pretty sure someone so smart and independent would have taken one look at the place and been out of there.
So why two stars instead of one? Well, I did enjoy the beginning, when Mary is arriving in a coach on a rainy night, because it reminded me of Dracula (yet another superior gothic novel). I had high hopes, given the opening. I enjoyed the description of the moors, and the one time she went into town, things seemed like they *could* get a little interesting (but they didn’t). For these moments, I generously granted an extra star.
The only reason I finished this one is because I want to see the Hitchcock movie and see what changes he made.