Lorna Doone Almost everybody knows, in our part of the world at least, how pleasant and soft the fall of the land is round about Plover’s Barrows farm. All above it is strong dark mountain, spread with heath, and desolate, but near our house the valleys cove, and open warmth and shelter. Here are trees, and bright green grass, and orchards full of contentment, and a man may scarce espy the brook, although he hears it everywhere. And indeed a stout good piece of it comes through our farm-yard, and swells sometimes to a rush of waves, when the clouds are on the hill-tops. But all below, where the valley bends, and the Lynn stream comes along with it, pretty meadows slope their breast, and the sun spreads on the water. And nearly all of this is ours, till you come to Nicholas Snowe’s land.

Written in the nineteenth century (and of a style that, although this is called a “children’s book” many children might find hard to follow), the story of Lorna Doone is a Romance – capital R – set in seventeenth century Exmoor.

What I love about the book, and what made me so look forward to re-reading it, is the amazing sense of place and time that it evokes.

There is the desolate beauty of the steep crags and empty spaces on Exmoor, the dangerous bogs, the snow and fog of winter, the wildness of the place. It is an ancient, untamed place where homely people, like the hero John Ridd, work as hard as they need to and as honestly as they can. Then there is the cool, lush, impregnable Doone Glen where the terrifying clan of robber-nobles live, who murdered John Ridd’s father and thought nothing special of it. It is a secret and lawless place where a savage waterfall could tear your legs off, or where you could pick wildflowers, and make them into posies with the beautiful, innocent heroine, Lorna Doone.

Such places have a deep and compelling magnetism, and it is small wonder that people flock to Exmoor to find the “real” landscape of Lorna Doone.

I need not bore you too much with a plot synopsis, for no doubt you have already guessed it. Honest farmer John Ridd loves disgraced noble maiden Lorna Doone, but their love is impossible… or is it?

Thoroughly enjoyable, if somewhat non-feminist. Yay!

Here is an Amazon link, although for maximum pleasure you need to find an old worn out copy at the back of a cavernous second hand shop. Mine is inscribed “C S Thornton 1913” and if I didn’t get it from a second hand book shop it was from a car boot sale, many years ago.

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