Book Review//Moonfleet by John Meade Falkner

Moonfleet is an old-fashioned adventure novel. It is the kind of book you picture a child of yesteryear devouring while sitting on the branch of a tree eating candy out of a brown paper bag, possibly falling out of the tree at the most exciting moments. Moonfleet was originally published in 1898 and apparently remained popular for many years. I never heard of it until I stumbled on a free Kindle copy ages ago. I put it on my Classics Club list and thought I would get around to it eventually. Which I did. It just took a while.

John Trenchard is an orphan who lives in the village of Moonfleet near the sea in the south of England. There is a legend in the village that tells of Colonel John "Blackbeard" Mahone who stole a diamond from King Charles I and took the knowledge of its location to his death. John gets locked in the crypt, finds the key to the treasure, gets involved with smugglers, has to escape and go into hiding, finds the treasure, loses the treasure, is imprisoned, escapes, is shipwrecked, and finally ends up back in the village of Moonfleet. Believe it or not, I left out a few adventures.

This is basically a rollicking tale of adventure and derring-do that reads like a movie playing in your head. I spent the whole time I was reading it thinking that it really should be made into a movie but I am not the first to think that. A movie was released in 1955 though many plot elements were changed. There was also a radio drama done by the BBC in 1963 and a BBC TV adaptation in 1964. There was another mini-series in 1984. So, it looks like the whole world knew about this book except for me.

Read it. It is a perfect escape into a world where adventure awaits around every corner and the escapades and trials you face somehow always bring you home, happy and ready to marry the love you left behind. Who doesn't need an escape like that occasionally?


Someday I am going to live in the middle of the countryside. I will be surrounded by open fields and grassy meadows. I will lean on a white rail fence and watch the horses. There will be a red barn in the distance and a dirt track leading to it.

The air will be cool and fresh, filled with the call of red-winged blackbirds and swallows swooping through the sky.  I will stroll through the meadows and down the dirt road. I will pick blackberries and wild blueberries and apples from the trees at the end of field, each in their own season.

Afternoons will be spent sitting on my porch and drinking iced tea and eating freshly baked pie and only my favorite people in the world will sit there with me. We will chat about books and the meaning of life and then we will sit in silence because that is what you can do with your favorite people.

The world will be quiet and slow and beautiful. It will be filled with all the time I need to appreciate what is around me. There will be wildflowers and grasses gone to seed and leaves of changing colors. There will be snow-covered hills and nights by the fire. There will be rainy days when I curl up on the porch with a book or two. Long walks and peaceful days and cosy nights will stretch in front of me.

I wish it all was mine.


Golden Moments #7

Life is frequently annoying. Life is stressful. Life is sometimes just a bit much. So, in my irregular attempt to concentrate on the positive, here is my list of golden moments lately. I must admit, it has been a bit of a struggle to come up with a whole post's worth but they are there if I look hard enough.

My son graduated from high school. He graduated on time despite dealing with some health issues during the past year or so that made this doubtful at times. His health is improving and life might go back to semi-normal soon.

My husband was rear-ended while he was on his motorcycle tonight. Wait, I know that doesn't sound like a golden moment but he wasn't injured and neither was his motorcycle. He was stopped at a light and someone behind him didn't stop soon enough. He was pushed out into the intersection but it could have been so much worse. Though his back is bothering him so there is that to keep an eye on.

My daughter and I have been having fun trying new craft projects this summer. Right now our living room is taken over by bracelet making materials. She wants to learn how to make beaded, braided, leather bracelets. It is harder than it looks but we are getting there. Next up, we bought fabric to make aprons and I am going to teach her the little I know about sewing. I used to do a bit years ago but then I had kids and that ended. Yes, my son is 17. I suppose I could have picked it up again before now. Celia and I are both enjoying having something we do together, just the two of us.

I brought a load of stuff to Goodwill and checked out the books while I was there. I found a British Library Crime Classic. I have never seen one in this country, though I have heard rumors they exist, so it made my day. No, it doesn't take much.

The kids and I spent the day with old friends we hadn't seen in way too long. There was swimming, bb gun target shooting, lots of chat, and lots of food. It is so nice to see friends again after a long time and pick up right where you left off.

My husband and I took the day off and went to Tower Hill Botanic Gardens. I wrote about it here. It was very nice to spend a bit of time together and enjoy the nice weather before it got brutally hot.

My daughter and I got our hair cut and went out for ice cream. It has become a bit of tradition and, goodness knows, we are a family that loves our traditions. The ice cream stop makes what would otherwise be simply a  necessary excursion feel a little bit special. Plus, time with Celia is always fun.

What golden moments have you had in your life lately?

In Search of England by H. V. Morton

Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time probably realizes that I have a bit of an obsession with England. As a natural correlation, I love books set in the U.K. When I stumbled across a description of In Search of England I knew it was a book that was just made for me. The description on the back says  "In the course of a light-hearted journey round England by motor car between the wars, the author captures the sights and sounds, and the personalities, of countryside and town." If you can resist a light-hearted journey round England by motor car then you are a stronger person than I am.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a joy and pleasure the whole way through. It was full of fascinating facts and descriptions of towns and country life. Morton does, at times, assume the reader has a knowledge of history that, in my case, is sketchy at best. We will put that down to my being an ignorant American.

As usual, instead of a real review, I will give you a few quotes I particularly enjoyed. Here is his description of the village of St Just.

There are a few cottages lost in trees, a vicarage with two old cannon balls propping open the garden gate, and a church. The church is grey and small and, as a church, not worth notice; but it stand in a churchyard which is one of the little-known glories of Cornwall. I would like to know if there is in the whole of England a churchyard more beautiful than this. There is hardly a level yard in it. You stand at the lych-gate and look down into a green cup filled with flowers and arched by great trees. In the dip is the little church, its tower level with you as you stand above. The white gravestones rise up from ferns and flowers.

Doesn't that sound lovely? Then there is his response to the city of Bath.

I have decided that when I grow old, with or without gout, sciatica, rheumatism, or lumbago, I will retire to Bath with an ebony cane and a monocle. I like Bath:  it has quality. I like Bath buns, Bath Olivers, Bath chaps, Bath brick, and Bath stone (which to my London eyes is the beatiful sister of Portland Stone), and few sights are more stimulating to relaxed nerves than to sit on the hotel terrace opposite the Pump Room and watch the Bath chairs dash past.

That paragraph alone is as if I submerged myself in every British book I have ever read. Maybe that is what I so enjoyed about this book. It brings to life an England I am happy to believe actually existed.

I went out into the churchyard where the green stones nodded together, and I took up a handful of earth and felt it crumble and run through my fingers, thinking that as long as one English field lies against another there is something left in the world for a man to love. 
'Well,' smiled the vicar, as he walked towards me between the yew trees, 'that, I am afrad, is all we have.'
'You have England,' I said. 

I mentioned that I feel that I am a bit lacking in my knowledge of England's history. I know the basics but that is about it. Morton mentioned G. M. Trevelyan's History of England. It is a happy coincidence that I just purchased two volumes of this history from Maureen who is @finepreserversbooks on Instagram.  They arrived in the mail the same day that I encountered the reference to them in In Search of England. So, now I am all ready to justify the belief of the verger Morton encountered when touring Winchester Cathedral. Morton asked " Who are your most intelligent listeners?' The verger's response?  "American women over forty!"