Moonfleet (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 3 Feb 2011
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"John Meade Falkner's tale of smuggling, a cursed diamond, revenge, ghosts, a secret code, wrongful imprisonment and great sacrifice. It calls for comparison with The Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World and Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan of the Apes. A novel of claustrophobic darkness, storm-wracked seas and wild romantic landscapes, it sweeps the reader irresistibly along, like the deadly undertow at Moonfleet Beach" (Washington Post)
"A ripping yarn...a wonderful story of smuggling and skulduggery" (Independent)
"This one of the great adventure stories for young people, perhaps even more enjoyable than Treasure Island" (Observer)
"It's a Victorian adventure story about the 18th century; about an orphan boy who becomes involved with smugglers and with one particular mentor figure - the grim old Elzevir Block. It is beautifully written and astonishingly vivid: you live alongside the boy trapped in a tomb, escaping along a cliff track, let down a deep well by a villain to find a lost diamond, fleeing to the Hague, being duped, arrested, put in a prison camp for years, transported to Java, shipwrecked at last on his own home beach" (Libby Purves)
"A tale of smuggling and diamonds and winter storms, all set around a fictional village on the edge of Chesil Beach. In Faulkner's book, as in Ian McEwan's, the beach takes on a character of its own and the final scene, with its fearsome storm and its smugglers and crashing timbers, is as much about the beach as the characters." (Mail on Sunday)
About the Author
John Meade Falkner was born in Wiltshire in 1858. He worked as a teacher at Derby school, and climbed through the ranks of a large Newcastle arms manufacturer to become its director in 1901, after working for the company founder as his family's tutor for many years. After retiring in 1926, Falkner became honorary librarian to the dean and chapter of Durham Cathedral. He wrote three novels including Moonfleet (1898), as well as publishing a volume of poetry (Poems, 1933) and a pocket history of Oxfordshire. J. Meade Falkner died on July 22, 1932.
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I get no pleasure from it as a book and hence don't enjoy reading it either.
It will become the first ever book I've used for firelighter and I will replace it with a Penguin or a Collins or... or anything really.
And will pay more attention to the "look inside" function in future.
As with Jim Hawkins or Huck Finn, the tale’s main character and first person narrator, is a young boy, John Trenchard, yet I would argue that in terms of characterisation Falkner’s work is superior to these two other works, for the maturational journey from naïve youth to guilt ridden and almost broken adulthood is expertly handled. In contrast to the YA, boy’s own adventure scenes earlier on, the last third is incredibly emotive, especially the final shipwreck scene and Elzevir Block.
Chance is a recurring theme in the novel (symbolised as the role of dice in a backgammon game), as is self-resilience and these two elements are juxtaposed throughout as Trenchard’s fate rises then falls dramatically until its seems utterly hopeless.
No spoilers here though, you should read this one for yourself.
Narrated by John Trenchard in his later years this tale starts out in 1758, when John is only fifteen years of age. Set in the village of Moonfleet in Dorset this tale then follows John, and his friend and father figure, Elzevir Block on their adventures in Dorset, then the Isle of Wight, and on to the Netherlands, before finishing back in Moonfleet, Dorset.
A good old yarn of smuggling, hidden treasure (in the form of a diamond), romance and friendship, this adds greed and treachery to combine in a good strong tale. Not overly complex to read this story has all the ingredients for a great adventure tale, which it is. We know from the beginning that John Trenchard will survive; after all he couldn't narrate this tale from his past if he didn't, but we don't know what the outcome will be for other characters. This tale makes use of daring deeds and other exploits but it doesn't go over the top, making you want to carry on reading, and despite taking in smuggling the story is quite moral if you think about it. A lot of characters may practice the art of contraband, but as you see reading this, they are quite upright in other matters, and so the smuggling part of this story reads more like a great game - albeit a dangerous one - where smugglers try to outdo the Excisemen.
Whether young or old this is still a great story to read and I am sure will be just as much enjoyed by those re-reading it, as well as younger people, whose first time this will be.
It just goes to show that good writing and a good plot (like Sherlock Holmes, R. L. Stevenson and some Charles Dickens) however long ago it was written, will stand the test of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who likes adventure stories, especially involving the sea and smugglers.
Probably one of the original, and still one of the best adventure stories ever written. JM Falkner was ahead of his time when he wrote this book. A must read.
The house that the author lived in as a child is now a pub in the middle of Weymouth town centre.