The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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2020 Group Reads - Archives > Lorna Doone - Week 12 - Conclusion

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message 1: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4467 comments Mod
Just discussion questions to start us off.

What did you think of the book? Why?

What did you think of the writing? Why?

The characters? Why? Did you have a favorite character?

What, if anything, surprised you?


message 2: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1321 comments Mod
It took me a while to get into the book, but I enjoyed it after a certain point. The writing style was still a bit opaque in places, even after I'd gotten used to it. My favorite character was probably Ruth.

I was originally going to give the book 3 stars, but I changed it to 4 when Blackmore let Lorna survive. I had fully expected this book to have a tragic or bittersweet ending, and I had accepted that. I don't need every book to have a happy ending. But after Lorna survived the attack, I realized I had, deep down, really wanted a happy ending, especially given current events. So that was a pleasant surprise.


message 3: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4467 comments Mod
This book was not a great book for me. I’d get into it and then there would be long rambling chapters. With the pandemic, I found it hard to concentrate which didn’t help. Luckily I was moderating so I had to keep going. I was also very frustrated by the author’s descriptions/treatment of women. Lizzie who was smart and well read kept being belittled as not a worthy woman. Yet Lorna who seemed to be beautiful and kind, but not much more, was the epitome of a woman.

My favorite character was also Ruth. Small in statue, big in heart and fortitude.

I wish there was a lot less rambling. I feel like I know John and his family significantly better than I know Lorna. This is John’s story more than Lorna’s.


message 4: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1321 comments Mod
Right, this was definitely not easy pandemic reading.


message 5: by Brian (last edited May 17, 2020 05:43PM) (new)

Brian Reynolds | 701 comments Q, What did you think of the book? Why?
A. I wavered between 2 and 3 stars, but decided on 2 stars because I often had trouble keeping my interest in the book. I may be underrating the book, but that reflects my level of reading pleasure.

Q. What did you think of the writing? Why?
A. While the descriptions were at times vivid, most of the time the writing seemed excessive and I lost focus and had trouble visualizing what was happening.

Q. The characters? Why? Did you have a favorite character?
A. I think the major problem I had with the book and writing was that John was the narrator. I've mentioned before that I disliked his treachly descriptions of Lorna and I just had problems with his perception on everything. I know that his 'lunkiness' was supposed to be either charming or humorous, but I found neither he nor his narration funny or charming but found it instead to be irritating. I didn't trust his view on people or things. I wonder how the book would have been with a third person narrator.

Q. What, if anything, surprised you?
A. That I wasn't surprised at the plot's ending is not the book's fault. At the half-way point, my main interest in the story was that I honestly did not know where it was going. Lori said "I had fully expected this book to have a tragic or bittersweet ending, and I had accepted that." I thought that was a possibility too, so the book had that going for it, However, I then read a GR post in another group that unwittingly informed me that Lorna would be shot, then survive and the book would end happily ever after. That took away any element of surprise and affected my enjoyment of the book from then on in. The book did pick up toward the end and there was a lot of action, but I'm not sure I was able to fully appreciate the book.


message 6: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4467 comments Mod
Brian wrote: "Q, What did you think of the book? Why?
A. I wavered between 2 and 3 stars, but decided on 2 stars because I often had trouble keeping my interest. I may be underrating the book, but that reflects ..."


I agree with all that you’ve said. If I hadn’t been moderating, I would have given up on it. So bravo for all who finished it.


message 7: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2114 comments Mod
I ended up liking it pretty well. It didn't bother me that John had stereotypical views of women (and other things), he was always consistent. There was a lot more action in the last chapters. As far as the ending, once when I was partway through, I looked back at the chapter list to see how many there were, and I saw that the last chapter was called "Life and Lorna Come Again" (or was it Love and Lorna), so I knew the ending in a way. Actually I couldn't really buy that Genny had hidden all the letters. She had always been a supporter of the relationship, and John had found her father!


message 8: by Charlotte (last edited May 18, 2020 02:43AM) (new)

Charlotte (charlottecph) | 142 comments I agree with you all, Robin, Brian, Lori and Deborah.

Thank you for joining in the discussion and hurrah to all of us who made it through. I was stuck with this book at the start of the pandemic with libraries suddenly closed and nothing else to read. But I thought, “this is after all a classic” and thankfully you were here in a group discussion.

On the day of finishing our libraries in Denmark open again.

I am not at all impressed with this classic. If it doesn’t appeal to people in this age, can it still be called a classic?

Blackmore’s rambling was incessant and John Ridd was not funny or interesting. Lorna was a fairy-like doll.

I can understand that it was once a popular story. But times have changed.


message 9: by Brian (last edited May 18, 2020 07:39AM) (new)

Brian Reynolds | 701 comments Charlotte wrote: " Blackmore’s rambling was incessant and John Ridd was not funny or interesting..."

That's the basis of my rating too. However, on a positive note, I did enjoy learning about England at the time of the Monmouth Rebellion, a period I was fairly ignorant of and that the book had real life historical figures. Also, when you get rid of the excessive verbiage and John's narration, the story is actually a fairly interesting one. That at the halfway point some of us didn't know what would happen next is also to the book's advantage.


message 10: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2114 comments Mod
I can see how a good movie could be made of it, using mainly the action scenes and leaving out some of the character and the political side. There was at least one movie made. I don't know if it's available anywhere.


message 11: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlottecph) | 142 comments Perhaps you did not read my post at the end of another week:

When I finish the book, I will watch the movie made in 2000 again. I saw it a long time ago. The casting looks very succesful. But there is one detail that I remember from the film and cannot forget: James McAvoy as Sergeant Bloxham. Such a great actor in such a minor role. Perhaps he wasn’t so big at that time. The character Bloxham is easy to overlook in the novel we are reading.


message 12: by Brian (last edited May 18, 2020 08:30AM) (new)

Brian Reynolds | 701 comments Robin wrote: "I can see how a good movie could be made of it, using mainly the action scenes and leaving out some of the character and the political side.."

I remember Charlotte's post and the McAvoy comment. There have at least been these films:
1934 movie
1951 movie
1976 miniseries
1990 movie
2000 movie

The 1990 movie had Polly Walker as Lorna and Clive Owen and Sean Bean well cast as John and Carver. The next year Polly would play another literary beauty, Caroline in Enchanted April. The 2000 movie had Aiden Gillen as Carver so both the 1990 and 2000 versions had Game of Thrones actors as the villainous Carver.

I long had the image from my youth of Cornel Wilde as the Lorna Doone movie hero. However, in looking at IMDb I now see that Cornel Wilde was instead the hero of the Forever Amber movie with Linda Darnell, who I was picturing as Lorna rather than Amber. Over 50 years, my memory confused the two book to movie stories.

Wikipedia also reports that in 1948, Alfred Hitchcock made plans to make a movie of Lorna Doone but didn't because an American had the U.S. rights. I wonder what that movie would have been like.


message 13: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte (charlottecph) | 142 comments My library has the DVD and I have made a reservation for it.


message 14: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4467 comments Mod
It would be interesting to see the movie. I wonder if I can stream it. I’m still housebound for the foreseeable future.

Thank you all for hanging in there with me. This book had been on my shelf for years. It can now be replaced on the shelf, never to be read again.


message 15: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1321 comments Mod
Brian wrote: "The 1990 movie had Polly Walker as Lorna and Clive Owen and Sean Bean well cast as John and Carver."

I often avoid movies made from books because the casting so often doesn't reflect how I pictured the characters, and then I find it distracting. I tend to have strong opinions about casting, though. None of those actors are how I pictured these characters.


message 16: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2114 comments Mod
Yes, the worst one was when a War and Peace movie had Henry Fonda as Pierre. The main thing Tolstoy kept saying over and over about Pierre was that he was fat. They could have at least picked someone a little bit chunky!

In the recent TV series of Poldark, Demelza had red hair, while in the book it said she was dark, which probably would have been more likely. There was a sense of gypsy about her. But since I saw the TV version first I liked the red hair (I don't know if that is the actress' real color however or if that was an artistic decision, it did fit in a way as red hair had its own stigma.)


message 17: by Brian (last edited May 18, 2020 10:56AM) (new)

Brian Reynolds | 701 comments Robin wrote: "Yes, the worst one was when a War and Peace movie had Henry Fonda as Pierre. The main thing Tolstoy kept saying over and over about Pierre was that he was fat. They could have at least picked someo..."

I'm with you. This is the text of my comment from another Goodreads group read of War & Peace in 2016 (where Robin mentioned her W & P dream):

"I wanted to read W&P before I saw the iTV series and still question why Pierre is always described as fat and then is played by Henry Fonda (1956) and Paul Dano. How about James Coco and Oliver Platt, something closer to Tolstoy's vision?"

It's probably because the fatter actors are either comedic, villainous or both and the film intent is to portray (or reduce the plot to) a romantic triangle, and 1950s and today's audiences would have difficulty accepting a fat actor in such a triangle.

Also, from Wikipedia on Elinor Tomlinson:
"She is a natural blonde, but dyed her hair red for the Poldark TV series because she thought red suited her character better."


message 18: by Brian (last edited May 18, 2020 03:00PM) (new)

Brian Reynolds | 701 comments Lori wrote: "I often avoid movies made from books because the casting so often doesn't reflect.how I pictured the characters, and then I find it distracting. I tend to have strong opinions about casting, though. None of those actors are how I pictured these characters..."

John Ridd would be hard to cast. Yes, Clive Owen is not big enough but otherwise you'd have to have someone like The Rock. I pictured Ray Stevenson from the TV Rome series, who also has played Porthos from the 3 Musketeers, another large sized character. Oliver Platt has also played Porthos.


message 19: by Lori, Moderator (last edited May 18, 2020 10:34AM) (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1321 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "The main thing Tolstoy kept saying over and over about Pierre was that he was fat. They could have at least picked someone a little bit chunky!"

The newest one had Keira Knightly as Anna. I like Keira, but Anna was also clearly described as a full-figured woman, "almost fat". (So was Olanna from Half of a Yellow Sun, who ended up being played by Thandie Newton.) I think you're right, Brian, that Hollywood has a problem with "fat character" stereotypes. They really should move past it, but then I suppose they worry a larger actor would attract fewer viewers.


message 20: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4467 comments Mod
Hollywood has a problem with fat period. Especially in women. Think about how many of them look like lollipops - heads that appear too large for excruciating thin bodies. Plus there’s quite a bit of body shaming to any actor that has the physique of a normal person,


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