Lorna Doone (Puffin Classics)

by R. D. Blackmore

Paperback, 1997



Local notes

PB Bla




Puffin (1997), 336 pages


First published in 1869, "Lorna Doone" is the story of John Ridd, a farmer who finds love amid the religious and social turmoil of seventeenth-century England. He is just a boy when his father is slain by the Doones, a lawless clan inhabiting wild Exmoor on the border of Somerset and Devon. Seized by curiosity and a sense of adventure, he makes his way to the valley of the Doones, where he is discovered by the beautiful Lorna. In time their childish fantasies blossom into mature lovea bond that will inspire John to rescue his beloved from the ravages of a stormy winter, rekindling a conflict with his archrival, Carver Doone, that climaxes in heartrending violence. Beloved for its portrait of star-crossed lovers and its surpassing descriptions of the English countryside, "Lorna Doone" is R. D. Blackmores enduring masterpiece.… (more)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

336 p.; 20 inches

Media reviews

[This review relates to the Naxos unabridged audiobook version, ISBN 9781843793618] Its audio form releases the language from the page thanks to Jonathan Keeble, an extraordinarily skilled voice actor who takes on the archaic Devon accent as though born to it - which, as a native of the region, he
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was. The novel's quietly droll passages and paeans to nature are greatly enhanced by his country aplomb.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member gbill
Written in 1869, Lorna Doone tells the tale of John Ridd, an honest country farmer in 17th century western England, who must stand up to a family of thieves who have not only murdered his father but who live in open defiance of the law, and who have a woman in their midst, Lorna Doone, whom he fell
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in love with as a boy.

One has to enter into the world in which the novel was written in order to enjoy it, for there are a few things to not like, starting with the characterization of women as “weaker vessels”. Yes, all the stereotypes are here, from the damsel in distress to the shrewish intellectual to the worrying mother to the attractive sister who needs protecting from the advances of men. While a romance novel, it’s not clear how well lines like “I always think that women, of whatever mind, are best when least they meddle with the things that appertain to men” will play to a modern woman.

As in other 19th century romance literature, plot devices are a little too convenient, characters are often simplistic, and motivations are at times highly questionable; for example, John’s complete chivalry in the face of the evil Carver Doone on more than one occasion (dude … kill him already!). The book seems to be a prototype for many a Disney tale in our century, and I’m not sure that’s a good way to recommend it.

And yet I found myself liking it. Maybe it’s because the edition I was reading was itself very old, printed in 1873, and owned previously by a Elinor Hickey long ago, which somehow made reading this outside in the sunshine more enjoyable. The color illustrations are simple and few in number, but also charming.

I found myself pulling for a relatively minor character, little Ruth Huckabuck, who John is also attracted to, both for her spirit and her attractiveness (he looks at her “ruddily” while she “stoops down for pots and pans”, openly compliments her “pretty eyes”, and believes there is “something in this child, very different from other girls”). One of the most memorable scenes in the book is when she overhears John’s mother demean her as a little dwarf, and stands up for herself with a carefully measured speech dripping with sarcasm (oddly, that she would do so, instead of being ‘polite’ and feigning not to hear, was considered rude). Another is when despite flirtation in the air and a “great mind to kiss her”, John drops a bomb on her, asking if she will come dance at his wedding with Lorna. I penciled “ouch” into the margin on that one. And I’ll set aside any symbolic reading into his fervently sucking the venom out of her arm in other scene, after a nasty horse bite, and her “doubt about my meaning, and the warmth of my osculation.”

The acceptance of highwaymen was a curious phenomenon in the book: in Tom Faggus’s case it actually turned into adulation as he was “charming” about it, and in the Doone’s case, it was despite their stealing away local women and children on their raids.

There are many other great scenes: the look of the elderly and dying Ensor Doone who John approaches for Lorna’s hand, the treacherous ‘Counsellor’ to the Doone’s hoodwinking John’s naïve sister out of a very valuable diamond necklace, a mysterious bog and noises in the night, the political unrest between Protestants and Catholics that results in a Captain roaming the countryside hanging people arbitrarily, without trial, and John coming to Lorna’s rescue, blanketed by a giant snowfall. Yes, the big strong man rescuing the woman he is devoted to and willing to risk life and limb for after somewhat infrequent meetings over the course of years.

It’s an 800+ page book which was a bit daunting, as in, do I really want to devote this much time to this book, despite its age and the great bookstore I found it in? But it’s never boring, and there is plenty of action from beginning to end. I could be rounding up just a teeny bit on my review score, but did find it enjoyable.

On children:
“I myself was to and fro among the children continually; for if I love anything in the world, foremost I love children. They warm, and yet they cool our hearts, as we think of what we were, and what in young clothes we hoped to be; and how many things have come across. And to see our motives moving in the little things, that know not what their aim or object is, must almost, or ought at least, to lead us home, and soften us. For either end of life is home; both source, and issue, being God.”

On crime, ala Dylan’s “steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king”:
“But after all, I could not see … why Tom Faggus, working hard, was called a robber, and felon of great; while the king, doing nothing at all (as became his dignity), was liege-lord, and paramount-owner; with everybody to thank him kindly, for accepting tribute.”

“The robbery of one age is the chivalry of the next.”

On hope, and religion:
“Hope, for instance, is nothing more than desire with a telescope, magnifying distant matters, overlooking near ones; opening one eye on the objects, closing the other to all objections. And if hope be the future tense of desire, the future tense of fear is religion – at least with too many of us.”

On lawyers:
“…the three learned professions live by roguery on the three parts of man. The doctor mauls our bodies; the parson starves our souls; but the lawyer must be the adroitest knave, for he has to ensnare our minds. Therefore he takes a careful delight in covering his traps and engines with a spread of deadleaf words, whereof himself knows little more than half the way to spell them.”

On love:
“’No doubt it is all over!’ my mind said to me bitterly: ‘Trust me, all shall yet be right!’ my heart replied very sweetly.”

On Victorian ‘lust’:
“’I am behaving,’ I replied, ‘to the very best of my ability. There is no other man in the world could hold you so, without kissing you.’
‘Then why don’t you do it, John?’ asked Lorna, looking up at me, with a flash of her old fun.”

On marriage, this is the elder Doone’s view:
“All marriage is a wretched farce, even when man and wife belong to the same rank of life, have temper well assorted, similar likes and dislikes, and about the same pittance of mind. But when they are not so matched, the farce would become a long dull tragedy, if anything were worth lamenting.”

On motherhood:
“…only feel, or but remember, what a real mother is. Ever loving, ever soft, ever turning sin to goodness, vices into virtues; blind to all nine-tenths of wrong; through a telescope beholding (though herself so nigh to them) faintest decimals of promise, even in her vilest child.”

On nature:
“The willow-bushes over the stream hung as if they were angling, with tasseled floats of gold and silver, bursting like a bean-pod. Between them came the water laughing, like a maid at her own dancing, and spread that young blue which never lives beyond the April. And on either bank, the meadow ruffled, as the breeze came by, opening (through tufts of green) daisy-bud or celandine, or a shy glimpse now and then of the love-lorn primrose.
Though I am so blank of wit, or perhaps for that same reason, these little things come and dwell with me; and I am happy about them, and long for nothing better. I feel with every blade of grass, as if it had a history; and make a child of every bud, as though it knew and loved me. And being so, they seem to tell me of my own oblivious [sic], how I am no more than they, except in self-importance.”

On religion:
“But whatever lives or dies, business must be attended to; and the principal business of good Christians is, beyond all controversy, to fight with one another.”

“For even in the New Testament, discarding many things of the Old, such as sacrifices, and Sabbath, and fasting, and other miseries, witchcraft is clearly spoken of as a thing that must continue; that the Evil One be not utterly robbed of his vested interests. Hence let no one tell me that witchcraft is done away with…”

On French wine:
“But to bring it over to England, and set it against our home-brewed ale (not to speak of wines from Portugal), and sell it at ten times the price, as a cure for English bile, and a great enlightenment; this I say is the vilest feature of the age we live in.”

On women:
“The carried off many good farmers’ daughters, who were sadly displeased at first; but took to them kindly after awhile, and made a new home in their babies. For women, it seems to me, like strong men more than weak ones, feeling that they need some staunchness, something to hold fast by.”

“But you may take this as a general rule, that a woman likes praise from the man whom she loves, and cannot stop always to balance it.”

“…there are, and always have been, plenty of women, good and gentle, warm-hearted, loving, and loveable; very keen, moreover, at seeing the right, be it by reason, or otherwise. And upon the whole, I prefer them much to the people of my own sex, as goodness of heart is more important than to show good reason for having it.”

“For nine women out of ten must have some kind of romance or other, to make their lives endurable; and when their love has lost this attractive element, this soft dew-fog (if such it be), the love itself is apt to languish; unless its bloom be well replaced by the budding hopes of children.”
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LibraryThing member MaowangVater
John Ridd’s life as he narrates his story is as large as he is. The Hercules of Exmoor, as his author describes his strength, is as gigantic as the near seven-foot yeoman himself. He has been the sole male support of his family since he was schoolboy when his father’s death at the hands of the
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Doones, the aristocratic outlaws of his region of southwest England, placed him in this position. A champion wrestler at county fairs, he must, as an adult, tackle the wiles of the lawyers and court of King James II, as well as the outlaws of Bagworthy Forest, and the labors of the harvest and fields. Ironically, his only true love, Lorna Doone, is a member of the clan of his enemies.

Blackmore’s romance, a he terms his most popular book, is more than a seventeenth century Romeo and Juliet. In addition to John’s striving for a match above his station in life, there are Blackmore’s expert characterizations of John, his family, friends and rivals. The countryside and its seasons are described so vividly and actively that it’s more an active character than background or setting. There are also episodes of court intrigue, religious contention between Catholics and Protestants, several pitched assaults and battles, secret business deals, open rebellion, multiple near escapes, and even hints of supernatural doings. It’s a bit of something for every reader formula that still works for best sellers today as it did in 1869 when Lorna Doone was first published.
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LibraryThing member Misfit
What an awesome tale. Written in the 19th century, but telling a tale about the late 1600's during the times of Charles II and James II. Our hero, John Ridd is a simple, albeit wise and honorable farmer who as a young lad meets Lorna Doone of the dreaded, evil outlaw family of higher born Doones,
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and it's love at first sight.

There are lots of ups and downs and surprises, along with the author's gorgeous prose decribing the english countryside and farmlife. You have to pay attention though, as none of the characters are wasted. What might seem as inconsequential events and characters earlier in the story are brought back in full circle to the tale, along with a great mystery about Lorna's past as the author slowly peels out the many layers of his story.

Highly highly recommended. If you enjoy Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte or Dickens this will probably be right up your alley.
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LibraryThing member jayne_charles
Not one of the best 'classics' I have ever read - I found the narrator rather unformed, and the various skirmishes with the Duke of Monmouth became tedious. There were good bits though - notably the tense confrontation with the Doone family early on in the book. The trouble is, I kept thinking,
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just transpose the whole scenario into the modern day, have the Doone family living on a sink estate with a rusting Rover up on bricks in the front garden, Lorna would have been just as rough as the rest of them, I'm sure. Why it should be any different in olden times I don't really understand.
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LibraryThing member PollyMoore3
I have just re-read this after many many years. It has stood the test of time wonderfully, and comes up once again in bright fresh colours. You have to accept the long descriptions and explanations; the nature descriptions may be flowery, but they are also very accurate and detailed. Accept also
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the 17th/19th C view of the sexes; the characterisations are still wonderful. I enjoyed Tom Faggus, John Fry, Betty Muxworthy, Ruth Huckaback and all, all over again. And it is, despite its length and detail, an exciting tale, constantly switching from comic incidents (the rescue of the drake) to stirring ones (Winnie's mad gallop with young John), all through the book and right to the (very exciting) end.
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LibraryThing member Benedict8
This book is almost forgotten today. I listened to it on the Audible.com edition. The reader explains at the beginning how he had to go through hoops to get the accents right.

The book has some flowery language but otherwise is written in superlative beautiful Victorian English. It is an unusual
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story that is well worth the effort to listen to it or read it.

It is so well written that I got to the end despite its length and was a bit sorry when it ended.
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LibraryThing member pennsylady
3.5 ★
Lorna Doone (A Romance of Exmoor) is a novel by English author Richard Doddridge Blackmore, ((1825-1900),
Published in 1869, it is set in the 17th century...

Lorna Doone is not historical fiction; but, we are given an adequate societal snapshot.
It is a romance , with emphasis on traditional
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Victorian values, albeit unusual circumstances.
There are sensational moments peppered through out the story.
And, (just what I needed), there is a happy ending.
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LibraryThing member Meredy
Classic adventure and romance in seventeenth-century England, with plenty of drama, atmosphere, character, and rich description, and not without meaningful reflection. They don't make 'em like this any more.
LibraryThing member MyopicBookworm
I can see why this book is a classic of 19th century romance, but having read the full text, I can also see why abridged editions are popular. (Some readers probably don't realize they are reading an abridged edition.) Though there were many memorable episodes, I did find it rather a slog. The
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author happily spends most of a page discoursing on the effects of frost on fruit trees, or soliloquizing about the benefits of country ways. John Ridd's self-deprecation occasionally threatens to become annoying (like that of Esther in Bleak House), but he remains a very sympathetic character, though the fact that the novel is entirely cast with him as narrator forces him to be much more observant and articulate than is credible of a West Country farmer, even one with a few years' education at a respectable grammar school. Some of the descriptions are evocative of the 17th century setting. The accounts of bands of militia roaming the land, hanging whoever they pleased, was a telling contrast to the slightly (though not overly) romanticized outlawry of the Doones, and reminded me of how insecure life in olde England could be, especially outside the large towns. Curiously, I did not really get more than a vague impression of the Exmoor scenery. MB 30-v-2008
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LibraryThing member leslie.98
I hovered between 3 and 4 stars for this classic historical fiction. It is tempting to say that it would be better abridged - shorter and more to the point - and certainly the main love story has plenty of excitement to be a worthy book on its own. However, the more I thought about that, the more I
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realized that Blackmore, by writing this as he did, is making a statement about life in that time (late 1600's) just as much as he did with the plot. John Ridd is a farmer, and for the survival of his family and their dependents, taking care of the farm had to take precedence no matter how much he might want to be following his love or having adventures (not that John ever wanted adventures!). By breaking up the action with bucolic scenes, it is a reminder that this is what truly matters, not the adventure. You couldn't get that message with an abridged version.
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LibraryThing member dissed1
Lorna Doone, the centuries old tale of adventure and love in remote England, is a true classic in every sense. R. D. Blackmore, though wordy, writes John Ridd's tale of rivalry and respect easily, with many unexpected plot turns. As typical of romantic adventures of the time, the drama is abundant
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and the characters well imagined. It's a lengthy story and you need to invest some time to get the most from it, but you won't be sorry by the time you turn the last page. Blackmore was the type of writer who left no strings hanging and his reader well satisfied. Some of the vocabulary used is old, and somewhat hard to decipher, though the version I read conveniently contains a glossary at the back, for easy reference. The novel is worth a bit of effort; it is as engaging and relevant today as when it was written in 1869. Once encountered, you won't soon forget the larger than life John Ridd and his everlasting love affair with beautiful Lorna, or the strife he puts himself through to nurture it.
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LibraryThing member idie33
I'm glad my mother kept pestering me to read this. It really is a great overlooked and forgotten classic.
LibraryThing member lindawwilson
An all time favorite; everything a novel should be; suggested to me by my father when we were in a used bookstore together when I was in my early 20's.
LibraryThing member drpeff
i have read this multiple times. great story.
LibraryThing member storytime930
I bought this book at a garage sale about 10 years ago. It wasn't in very good shape, but I only wanted to read it so that wasn't really a concern. I discovered it was very old, possibly from 1873, but at least from 1917. No wonder it wasn't in good shape. Anyway, I enjoyed it a great deal. The
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characterizations were well done. I am constantly surprised that classic stories stand up so well to time. Very readable.
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LibraryThing member hemlokgang
I loved this book. The audio version is narrated with a beautiful Scottish brogue. This is the best epic romance I have ever read. Even Blackmore's descriptive passages, which can drag in even the best of audiobooks, were absolutely beautiful! I am so glad I read this old classic!
LibraryThing member natumi.s
The Doone family lived in a secret valley. They were robbers and murderers.
One man which named John hated them. Because John's father were killed by them.
So, John killed them.
I think it is not good to kill people.
There was the way which judged The Doone family.
For example, taking their all weapons
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and so on...
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LibraryThing member tomomi.n
Jhon Ridd was killed his father by the Doones.
The Doones were murders and robbers so they were very bad.
But he loved Lorna Doone.
Her name was Doone but actually she was not the family of Doones!

I think Jhon was very single-minded and brave.
it was happy for him to marry Lorna and beat Doones.
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Lorna also was happy.
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LibraryThing member flamingrosedrakon
This is one of those books that needs a re-make for children and hopefully then it would be able to make the cut. What makes this particular type of book so dull and irritating is that unless you don't mind not knowing what you are reading then you will need to be glued to a dictionary that has the
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archaic meanings from the English language.

The characters aren't that strongly developed although there is a small depth to them than some others. Basically you are given a character stereotype for that particular creature while a bit of this or that may be thrown in along the way. And it seems that the worse of the traits are the ones that are worked upon the most.

There is plenty of action when the story decides to provide it but otherwise it is a slow plodding along of the story. Basically if you enjoy Classics this may be a book to please you, especially if you are into older works....
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LibraryThing member mysterymax
As you can see from the condition of the cover of my book, it has been read many many times. This is an 'adapted' version of the story and when I was young I must have read it a hundred times. It is an excellent rendition of the story with many very dramatic wood-cut illustrations. John is terribly
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handsome, Lorna is beautiful and the terrible Doones are frighteningly wild. I had been given book plates to use in 'my' books, complete with my name printed on them, and this one was "NUMBER ONE". If you can find this version of the story, it is a wonderful way to introduce this thrilling classic to younger people.
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LibraryThing member overthemoon
inscribed on frontispiece to my mother, The Miss Eales Prize for excellent work, July 1931
LibraryThing member MiaSquires
A romance based on a group of historical characters and set in the late 17th Century in Devon and Somerset.
LibraryThing member herschelian
I first read Lorna Doone in my teens, and thought it the most romantic book ever. Recently I heard it dramatised on the radio and so when staying down in Devon decided it would be appropriate to re-read it. I still find it a wonderful read, but at my advanced age see much more of the underlying
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case for Victorian social values that the author is promoting, something which escaped me entirely on first reading! John Ridd is a very human hero with his self-doubt removing any possibility of unreal perfection. Reading this for the second time made me go and find other material on the Monmouth Rebellion, so as ever one book leads to another.
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LibraryThing member sscarllet
Lorna Doone is a rather complicated love story that keeps your interested from the beginning to the end.

Overall I liked this book but I found the phonetic spelling for Somerset accents to be really challenging as I don't know the accent very well. Because of that I did find myself put the book
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down and reading a different book or two before being called back into the book.

If your into classic English books then I would suggest this, just don't expect to have an easy read.
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LibraryThing member jguidry
I read this book because I loved the movie version that A and E showed starring Richard Coyle and Amelia Warner. I liked the story version too, but not as much as the movie (for once). My main disappointment with the book version was that R.D. Blackmore went on and on about meaningless events, but
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rushed through the important events. I would have liked more detail about the Doones vs. the Ridds. I didn't need as much detail about John Fry following Uncle Reuben through the forest. Especially since John Fry never even found out where Uncle Reuben was going. Of course, the main storyline was wonderful and I enjoyed the read even though it dragged on at times.
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½ (353 ratings; 3.8)
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