Tag Archives: England

Review- Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by R.D. Blackmore

This book has been on my “to read” list for a long time.  When someone, whose opinion I highly value, recommended that I read the book, I immediately picked it up.  My only regret is that I waited so long to finally read Lorna Doone.  Originally published in 1869, R.D. Blackmore sets his book on the wild frontier of Exmoor, England where the Crown does not have complete control over the land.

My Review:

Lorna DooneThe plethora of interesting aspects to this book makes it difficult to decide about which ones to write.  John Ridd is a young boy living in the wilds of western England in the 17th century, when his father is murdered by a band of outlaws who torment, bully and rob the farmers and good people of Exmoor.  The Doones occupy their own outlaw village and not only survive by robbing those around them but also prey on the their neighbors for sport.  When John Ridd’s father stands up to these bullies, he is murdered and leaves behind his widow, Sarah Ridd, his prosperous farm, and his three children.

Although John grows up without the guidance of his father, he develops into an upstanding, strong and honest man.  Never for a minute does John harbor resentment or a grudge against the Doones.  If he had let hate and vengeance consume him, his heart would never have been open to receive the love of Lorna Doone and he would have missed out on the greatest love of his life.  What impressed me most about these star-crossed lovers is that they refuse to let the sins of their families ruin their happiness.  R.D. Blackmore has created a character in John Ridd that is an enduring moral example for all ages.

Despite unfortunate circumstances and countless obstacles, the zeal of John and Lorna’s love never wanes.  John’s thoughts and actions are always carried out with his love in mind, no matter how long it has been since he has beheld her face.  This romance is an interesting lesson for those of us in the 21st century who are accustomed to social media, Skype, text messaging, and any number of gadgets that keep us constantly in connection with one another.  We do not have to wait days and weeks for a letter from a loved one or travel on an extended and tedious journey to reach our beloved.  In this age of “out of site, out of mind,” would a man and woman be so patient, faithful and enduring in their love as John and Lorna?


Oare Church in Exmoor

The plot is also one of the factors that made me devour this book.  The reader is kept in constant suspense wondering whether or not the evil villians, in the form of the Doones, and especially their leader Carver Doone, will get their just deserts.  Will anyone come to the aid of the innocent people of Exmoor to stomp out these bullies, or will John Ridd and his neighbors take matters into their own hands?  John’s cousin, Tom Faggus, who is also a highway robber, has many interesting parts in the storyline.  Although, as a counterexample to the Doones, he robs the rich and gives the spoils to the poor.  R.D. Blackmore kept me guessing the various fates and outcomes of his characters until the very end.

R.D. Blackmore’s tale has the perfect formula for a great novel: romance, adventure, a bucolic setting, and indelible characters.  The tale of John Ridd has truly captured my heart and like all my favorite classic books, it will be one of those that I will reread again and again.


Filed under Classics, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Review and Author Interview: Tomazina’s Folly by Stuart Shotwell

I thought that the best historical novel I had ever read was Edmund Persuader by Stuart Shotwell which I finished last spring.  However, now that I have read Tomazina’s Folly, the sequel to Edmund Persuader, I have realized that Mr. Shotwell has truly outdone himself with his writing and I cannot decide if Edmund Persuader or Tomazina’s Folly is the best historical book I have ever read.  I invite you to read my review of Tomazina’s Folly and to read the wonderful answers to my questions that the author has graciously agreed to write.

My Review:

Tomazina's FollyOvid, in his epic poem the Metamorphoses, demonstrates most deftly the pain of unrequited love through the myth of Apollo and Daphne.  After Apollo mocks and attempts to belittle Cupid, the God of Love strikes Apollo with a golden arrow, the arrow that makes Apollo fall in love with the nymph Daphne.  But Cupid then pierces Daphne with the dreaded lead arrow, the arrow which makes someone turn away from the beloved.  Apollo desperately tries to pursue Daphne and the more she is pursued by Apollo, the more adamant Daphne is in her rejection of him.

When Tomazina’s Folly opens, it is Tomazina who has taken on the role of Apollo and she loves someone who cannot possibly love her back.  As a young, unmarried woman living in 19th century England whose father is devoutly religious, any sort of sexual feelings she might have are viewed as a sin.  Tomazina is tormented by her secret passion to the point where she thinks about harming herself.  Tomazina desires a marriage to a man who will be her intellectual, spiritual and physical equal.  She believes that there is only one man in the world who could possibly fulfill this role and he is already married.  Tomazina views her unrequited love and impulsive passion as her greatest folly.

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Filed under Historical Fiction