Readers talk about “junk novels”, novels they read for low effort and high pleasure. My brain surgeon sister reads bodice-rippers. Everyone below the age of thirty reads Harry Potter. And me? I read old adventure stories.
That’s why Project Gutenberg is such a find. You can get anything there. I touched on that in my recent Dog Ear piece about a test download that caught my interest. The only thing I regret about my choice is that I couldn’t recommend it to my late father. He’d have loved this one.
You see, Dick Trevanion lives on the Cornish coast in 1804, a child of reduced nobility. His father is one step ahead of the creditors, his ancestral lands are all but gone, and now the black sheep of the family has moved right next door (sneering and hinting at revenge). But Dick’s too busy with his friend Sam, fishing to keep the larders full, doing what he can in that heroic story-for-boys best (God love him).
And then there are the smugglers.
With the Napoleonic Wars gearing up, all manner of untaxed goods are drifting into moonlit coves by night. Dick and his father turn a blind eye to this, but then he drops into the thick of things when he comes across the smugglers buffeting the elderly excise man. Forced to choose a side, he finds the village hating him (and who do you think is whispering poison into their ears if not blackhearted Cousin John). Now people are smashing their boat and torching their outbuildings, the smugglers are attempting their greatest run yet and a French privateer has been seen along the coast. Good heavens, but things are heating up!
It’s a great tale of plucky lads, oily innkeepers, blunt Kings Men and wily French cads. It was good enough that I looked author Herbert Strang on Gutenberg and pulled another title down. Great fun for those willing to try new things and settle into the tales of another time.
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