RD Blackmore is a writer who is not much heard off these days. In fact modern youngsters will be hard pressed to recollect who he was, though his novel 'LornaDoone' may still strike a chord with them. In fact all the books and novels written by RD Blackmore are no longer in print except for ‘Lorna Doone'. However this one book by Blackmore has earned him a name for posterity.
"Lorna Doone' is a love story that has stood the test of time. Blackmore himself tried to get it published, but the first attempt failed and the novel was published only on a second attempt. The novel is a historical romance in the genre of the novels of Sir Walter Scott who himself rated Blackmore very highly. It is a voluminous work touching 624 pages, set in the moors of Exmore in the South West of England during the time of the Monmouth rebellion of 1685
The book was published in 1869 and has been in continuous print since then. The novel is a moving love story which has a historical background. The writer makes no pretence for historical accuracy, but there is no doubt that he was to an extant influenced by the works of Sir Walter Scott.
The story is related through the eyes of John Ridd, a young farmer who grows to up in an atmosphere of violence and vows revenge. He goes on to settle scores and in the process wins the heart and soul of the beautiful Lorna Doone. The story has a happy ending, but not before many turns and twists where the hero confronts the Doone's, who were the richest and most powerful family in SW England. Thus the novel has all the ingredients of an exciting tale. The central piece of the novel is the slaying of John Ridds father by the Doone’s which sow the seeds of revenge.
Lorna Doone is the heroine of the book and she sees Ridd early on in childhood and their romance blossoms when she grows up. There is the evil Carver Doone who wishes to possess her and Blackmore builds on this to relate an exciting tale of love, lust and adventure.
The book has some lovely descriptions of the English countryside and one cannot read Blackmore and not imbibe what he has described. Along with his description of the English countryside Blackmore's description of the star crossed lovers is apt to strike a chord with modern young men and women in love. However one aspect of the book stands out. Despite the many turns and twists in the novel Blackmore does no sermonizing and God is not mentioned anywhere in the book. The book is a clean and simple story and brings out the turbulent period of the 17 the century England.
As in most 18th century books there is very little of descriptive sex which is more implied than graphic. This perhaps is the strength of the book as Blackmore is able to convey the passion of Carvar Doone for Lorna and the sublime love of Ridd for Lorna without resort to elaborate descriptions.
Blackmore’s prose however will not find favor with modern writers, but he writes good English. If he is to be compared with a writer of his period than it is only Walter Scott. The other greats of his period like Charles Dickens and Conon Doyle are in a different genre as they wrote on different subjects.
Lastly, Lorna Doone is worth a read. Once you have read the book there is every chance that you will come back and re-read passages from the book. It’s like old wine and the more you read this novel