Lorna Doone, a Romance in Exmoor is a beautiful romance and adventure story set in the South West of England during the Monmouth Rebellion. Set against this historical background, this beautiful novel tells the story of young John Ridd who as he grows into manhood and rights the wrong done to his family and parish by a group of “noble” outlaws and at the same time winning the hand and heart of the beautiful and noble Lorna Doone.
The story is narrated by the protagonist, John Ridd. And Blackmore has taken great pains to make him a reliable narrator. He had approached the narrative in such a way that no partiality could be attached to it. Every important event in the story whether it placed the protagonist at an advantageous position or at his detriment, has been honestly and truthfully portrayed. For my part, I enjoyed this fair and balanced account of the story.
The story, as I mentioned before, is both a romance and an adventure. The romance is a sweet love story between the young John Ridd and beautiful Lorna Doone which grows little by little from their childhood. Blackmore has taken it to his heart how this romance should be. It is a little sentimental perhaps. Nevertheless, the charming and passionate writing draws the reader into their life and love. The adventure part of the story is a mixture of true historical events of the Monmouth rebellion and young John Ridd’s battle with the group of outlaws to protect his home, his farm, and his neighbourhood from their brutality. This, however, is not a heart-racing and action-packed adventure, but a slow and steady one. It was a little surprising for I consider an adventure to be a bit fast-paced. But equally surprising is seeing me enjoying the slow-paced adventure nevertheless. This is nothing short of a miracle for I cannot recall having enjoyed a slow-paced adventure this much before. And all the credit for my forbearance lies in Blackmore’s captivating writing.
Since I mentioned Blackmore’s writing quite often I have to say that I have not read such mesmerizing writing for quite some time. The poetic beauty and sing-song quality in his writing touched me profoundly. I can honestly say that I have only seen equal skill in the usage of language and writing in one other writer, and he is Thomas Hardy. Both being so sensitive towards nature and surroundings, their writing and their stories are so alluring.
The set up being the countryside of South West England, Blackmore brings to light the charming lives of farmers and the undisturbed natural habitat of Exmoor thorough his beautiful and captivating descriptions. In this backdrop, Blackmore brings out a simple protagonist in John Ridd. He is the hero, but an unusual one. Without making a perfect hero, Blackmore brings in a slow-witted yet physically strong hero, who is a farmer and a professional wrestler – an uncommon combination. However, this imperfect character brings realism to the story and enables the reader to connect with him instantly. His charming love interest Lorna is a character that balances between reality and imaginary thus giving a fairy tale quality to the story. The placement of these characters and all the other contributing characters are so well done that the overall effect is quite charming.
I can go on and on about this beautiful and mesmerizing piece of literature for I think I’m quite bewitched. I have read a young adult version of this long ago and remember enjoying it. But the complete novel is nothing short of perfection. I was quite taken in with the lives, love, and adventure of the Exmoor and was loathed to leave it and the Plovers Barrow, the cozy little home of John Ridd. It was one of the most melancholic literary partings that I have ever undergone.
There is nothing more left to say. That I loved this beautiful novel is proved beyond a doubt. To all who could endure a slow-paced adventure combined with a sweet romance set up against a beautiful backdrop of 17th century Exmoor, Lorna Doone is just for you.