Sunday, 26 June 2016


According to the flyleaf this book was first published by puffin books in 1962 but originally saw print in 1898 and it certainly feels like it. In the best possible sense off course. As the authors love of language and absence of any trace of modern and often vacuous cynicism with regard to the human spirit and the underlying basic goodness of most people. As J. Meade Falkner tells the tale of young John Trenchard while he grows towards manhood in the remote and windswept village of Moonfleet. What a great tale it is too with its ghostly pirates and smugglers, shipwrecks and storms, good guys and bad guys with colourful and believable characters and a story with echoes of Treasure Island and the much later published Papillon. .
              It is what was used to be called a boy's own adventure yarn. These days it would probably be considered a young adult knowingly Cornwallian post-retro naive  celebration of cultural appropriation or some other such boobie babble. It was the kind of great book that was read and enjoyed by generations of boys and girls up to the seventies and eighties and I do so hope that still continues today. It is written in the same adventurous spirit as Ballantyne 's Coral Island or Stevenson's Kidnapped. Yet it also called to mind Daphne Du Maurier and Jamica Inn with its swarthy vision of Cornish smuggling and stormy nights on jet black shores.
             I was very moved by the courage and loyalty shared by the main characters in this story. The author does not make things easy for the reader by telling him who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. He has some do bad things while others do good good things and we can decide where on the moral sliding scale of life they currently stand upon. the word love is not thrown about but we get to see the consequences of what people will do and what they will endure for love. The love of a father for a lost son and the ache of first love between a boy and the only girl he has ever cared for.
              There is also a nice undercurrent of a ghost story or at the very least the sense a long dead soul that cannot find rest in the shape of Blackbeard!Har-Har!Blackbeard's curse reaches out beyond the grave to wring pain from those who would not listen to the words of his curse. Actually it is not as obvious as that. It is just that things play out in a way that suggests there might be more things in this world than are dreampt off by even the most worldly of us..
               You know if there comes a blue day when you find yourself sick at heart and pining for the clear blue skies of your childhood and imagine there were days when everything seemed simpler than you could do worse than reach for a copy of this wee book. I do not know what determines a children's classic but this surely ticks a few of the boxes required.Failing that, it is just a fine book.