Memories of Jamaica Inn

Books & Literature, Uncategorized

Despite everyone grumbling about the muffled Cornish accents, I thoroughly enjoyed the latest BBC adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. I finished the novel last summer and I was pleased with the show’s loyalty to the book. And after Lady Sybil was so cruelly removed from Downton, I was happy to see Jessica Brown Findlay’s cool little face once more.

I’ve treasured an eerie obsession with Jamaica Inn ever since I visited the moors of Bodmin when I was about 8. I don’t remember much about the trip; most of it has merged into other childhood memories of travels through Cornwall.

Nevertheless, I do remember the secluded inn all alone in the west country wilderness. It’s said to be one of the most haunted locations in Britain, built in 1750 as a coaching house for changing horses. Du Maurier wrote the classic tale in 1930, after she got lost on the moors when out riding her horse. She became swamped in fog and sought refuge at the inn, where she was entertained by the local rector with tales of ghosts and smugglers.

When I visited the inn, it was home to Walter Potter’s Museum of Curious Taxidermy. He was a famous Victorian amateur taxidermist, and arranged his stuffed animals into ‘amusing’ tableaux, such as ‘Kitten Wedding’ and ‘Monkey Riding a Goat’. As a child this was terrifying, and of all my childhood memories, this remains one of the most vivid. Being an amateur, the dead creatures often looked contorted and the result was fascinatingly horrible. Luckily, I remember my Dad assuring me that all the animals had died of natural causes..

To my morbid delight, Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth, is publishing a new novel this Autumn called The Taxidermist’s Daughterinspired by her own childhood visits to the dreary exhibition (it was originally situated in Sussex where Potter lived). It’s a Gothic psychological thriller and I’m jolly excited!

I am determined to return to Jamaica Inn in the near future and see if it’s as terrifying as I remember. I’m planning to complete a literary tour of Britain, and I recommend the original novel for anybody who likes a grisly adventure tale!

Jamaica Inn is available on iPlayer here, and The Taxidermist’s Daughter will be published by Orion books on 11th September 2014.

photo1 (1)Eight-year-old me!

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7 thoughts on “Memories of Jamaica Inn

  1. I watched the first two episodes and have the last episode recorded. I’ll be Jamaica Inn the novel, and was slightly disappointed in the tv drama but I will watch that last episode.

    1. In all honesty, I think I’m completely biased with period dramas! I love watching them even if they’re not amaazing, because they’re set in the past and that’s good enough for me. I should probably try to be more critical but I just love them all! 🙂

      1. Could not agree more with this comment… period dramas are awesome, I just want to be *there* in the story! 🙂
        Still can’t abide Downton though… it’s the one exception.

  2. I really enjoyed it too although my forty year old ears did have to have the volume up very high. If you fancy 4 nights in a tent with your crazy little brother and sister you are welcome to join us on trip to Cornwall in August.

    1. Yes, I agree the volume thing was weird! We had to pause it a few times and translate as a group. That sounds very fun! I will have to see what job I’m doing by that point, but if I’m free then defo! 🙂

  3. You know it’s just the same in any other field.
    You’d think history showes us at least anything, but that’s so rare.
    Feel free to disagree but the world changes rapidly, and we have no control whatsoever over it.
    E.g., If only Barack had enough balls to put Russian bear to his place, but it seems like it’s not happening, welcome world war.
    Awesome post, thanks!
    Sarah http://phyto-renew350i.com/

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