This book definitely has its lengths, but I found myself minding them less and less, and as I was getting closer to its end, I even wished for it to go on just a little bit more.
As is my habit when writing a review for my blog, I did a bit of research and found that "Mary Anerley - A Yorkshire Tale" by R. D. Blackmore was originally published in a magazine's issues spanning more than a year, from July 1879 to September 1880. That explains the length!
The plot is quickly told: In 1801, when free trade (= smuggling) was as lucrative as it was dangerous, 17-year-old Mary Anerley from Anerley farm comes across a man who runs for his life, with coast guard officers shooting at him in hot pursuit. Mary saves him by showing him a hiding place, and agrees to meet at the same spot again one week later.
You guessed it - this is the start of a love story. But the book is so much more than just the romance of Mary and the smuggler, and how their true love overcomes all obstacles in the end. There are several threads followed in alternating chapters, such as who is the true heir to Scargate Hall; where did the toddler washed ashore and dressed in lace and gold originally come from; why was the Lieutenant shot, and by whom; will Lancelot of Scargate Hall ever beome a decent person; is the General Factor going to be successful in his secret business, and will Dr. Upround find someone else to play chess with? These are just a few examples of the rich tapestry the book weaves of lives crossing each other at various points, and for various reasons.
I loved the often very witty descriptions of the characters and their way of acting (and even thinking); it shows the author's acute observational skill. The setting is the coast of Yorkshire, with all its rough beauty and strong-minded people. Even of the elderly couples who have been together for decades, the author allows the reader glimpses of when they were young and fell in love, and shows the relationship between them now, expressed in their words and actions towards each other.
Of course this was another one of the many free ebooks I keep finding at Amazon's kindle shop. Because of the seaside jargon (and the age of the book), I had to look up several words, but that did not diminuish my pleasure.
About the author I knew nothing at all - not even whether "R. D. Blackmore" was a man or a woman. Wikipedia tells me that Richard Doddridge Blackmore lived from 1825 to 1900 and was "one of the most famous English novelists of the second half of the 19th century".