Once upon a time, there was a boy named John Ridd, “of the parish of Oare, of the county of Somerset.” John was your basic good kid, but he had no liking for anybody with the last name of Doone (not surprising, since the Doone outlaws killed his farmer father and got away with it). So John was off exploring waterfalls in a hidden valley one day and he met a young girl named Lorna Doone. And so begins a forbidden romance.
R.D. Blackmore’s novel Lorna Doone, I think, is pretty obscure — it’s not as commonly known as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. To my mind, it’s just as good. There is danger, adventure, bravery, comedy, fighting, prejudice, character reformation, a stolen necklace, evil, a shooting, class issues (nobility versus commoner) and even a love quadrangle going on. All of this is set against the backdrop of the beautiful English countryside and the Monmouth Rebellion.
You’ve got to admire my boy R.D. — he really packed a lot into one book and there isn’t a dull moment. Maybe this explains why the book’s been made into a film several times. The BBC did an excellent miniseries in 2000 with Richard Coyle playing John Ridd and Amelia Warner as Lorna Doone.
Lorna’s really made something out of her name, the cheeky little hussy. (I’m kidding! I’m kidding!) In addition to the miniseries, there is a Lorna Doone shortbread cookie, a Lorna Doone Hotel, a Lorna Doone Farm and a Lorna Doone Trail, as well as a gift shop and campsite.
But all in all, it’s a fun read. I recommend a cup of good strong tea and chocolate-coated McVitie’s digestive biscuits (roughly similar to graham crackers) as accompaniments.
For those of you who prefer to watch your books, see MydieLy’s excellent YouTube video below, set to the very appropriate music of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.”