Literary Moonfleet by John Meade Falkner
#1  sun surfer 05-18-2020, 08:36 PM
'Moonfleet begins as a mystery and an adventure story, a tale of smuggling set among the cliffs, caves, and downs of Dorset. What will be the outcome of the conflict between smugglers and revenue men? How can the hero, John Trenchard, discover the secret of Colonel John Mohune's treasure?

As the book progresses these two interwoven themes resolve themselves into a third and richer one, with the friendship and suffering of both John Trenchard and the craggy, taciturn Elzevir Block. Falkner's feeling for history and for the landscape of his Dorset setting combine with his gift for storytelling to turn Moonfleet into a historical romance of moving intensity.'


There are two phases of discussion. The first begins immediately and may contain conversations about anything pre-completion of the selection including reading progress, section thoughts, outside info, etc. The second begins on the 1st and also includes anything post-completion. These are recommended to help us discuss things in a similar timeframe but anyone can discuss any part or aspect at any time.

This is the MR Literary Club selection for May 2020. Everyone is welcome so feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time; the more the merrier!

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#2  sun surfer 05-22-2020, 12:03 AM
Does anyone know what Ararat milk is?

#3  Bookworm_Girl 05-22-2020, 02:21 AM
Quote sun surfer
Does anyone know what Ararat milk is?
Two theories are discussed on this link that would fit. Either a reference to Armenian Brandy or the Turkish drink Raki that looks milky when taken with water.

#4  sun surfer 05-22-2020, 03:16 AM
Quote Bookworm_Girl
Two theories are discussed on this link that would fit. Either a reference to Armenian Brandy or the Turkish drink Raki that looks milky when taken with water.
Ah, thanks! I was curious what it might taste like. Since it's used a lot in the book but doesn't seem like it was common at all I wonder if it was a drink or like a drink the author liked.

#5  Quoth 05-22-2020, 08:05 AM
Arak, common in the Middle East. There is a similar flavour Greek drink, Ouzo. The Turkish Raki is similar. It's got Anise so tastes a bit like liquorish. The kinds I've seen are clear and go a little milky if diluted. And, um, tested/tasted! Some varieties are already milky, never tried those. Ouzo certainly tastes similar, but I don't remember if it goes milky. The Arabic or Hebrew could be transliterated as Ararat. Certainly there are a variety of Arabic pronunciations. Not all Arabs are Moslems and heated or boiled alcoholic drinks are permitted by some Moslem "denominations".

Lots of things have changed even since 1920s. Things that were common now sometimes unknown to most people. Some things are not even the same thing at all, like custard. Also Moonfleet was written about a 130 years after the time setting and the author had only books to research the period.

Photo and description here:

In the interests of research I've compared Whisky, Whiskey and Bourbon. The Scotch can be slightly peaty and US burbon slightly soapy, maybe that's why Marlow drinks it with lemon (I think that's Whisky Sour). I've sampled commercial mead and brewed Metheglin (or at least one recipe) as well as stout, sloe wine (nothing like sloe gin), elderflower (white & sparkly) and elderberry (red dry "wine"). Research.

#6  Bookworm_Girl 05-22-2020, 10:28 PM
Thanks for the information and your commitment to “research“. Sounds interesting. I like watching shows on TV where they travel to regions and tell you about drinks and their historical origin and local customs.

#7  Quoth 05-23-2020, 08:55 AM
Imagine a place that exists today with no food or drink from the Americas and nothing from further east than the west coast of India, little to nothing unavailable 2,500 years ago to people in the West of Europe, Mediterranean / North Africa/Levant/Horn of Africa. That took a bit of research. Strawberries were tiny, like alpine types. Lettuce was more like dandelion in appearance, a little bitter and a lot more flavour, a similar variety still exists. Indian long pepper (ancient Romans imported it), horseradish and pepper corns are the hottest things. So called tea is actually Camomile, the ancients thought something so nasty but not poisonous must have healing properties. They were wrong! No actual tea or coffee. Pasta sheets but no noodles or tomatoes. No oranges and lemons, but the citron fruit.

I considered writing a book set in Ireland at the time of Queen Elizabeth I or even 12th C Normans. There are so many historical things to get wrong. Though forks, tea and coffee were known in the 16th C, they were almost unknown in England and Ireland till James. Which foods from Americas in QEI's time is a minefield. They did though have glass windows that opened normally and gunpowder. Oddly the up/down sash windows were a much later idea.

Georgette Heyer had over 1000 books just on the Georgian/Regency eras and bought letters of the time. Anything earlier than when you were about 10, or really a teen needs massive research. As Moonfleet is set about 130 years before being written, I'd wonder how accurate much was.
However the Elizabethan & Jacobean period was a first period of huge change, fuelled by gold the Spanish looted from South America, the second big period of change was the late 18th C, apart from technology and industry in the cities many rural aspects didn't change much till late 1940s. The 1850s to 1940s was the biggest technological changes in history. Very much technology and science from 1800 (battery) to 1916 (proposals for Electronic TV, Quantum Mechanics, Voice radio, remote controls, Relativity). The science and theories for almost everything in Electronics, Computers, TV, ICs etc existed by 1946. It was poor material purity that held up making working transistors.

Victorians invented or had: Submarines, Steam turbines for ships and electricity, wired telegraph, radio, mechanical TV, fax, telephone, record players, magnetic "tape" recorders, typewriters, punched cards for data sorting, gas mantel AFTER electric lights, the pen that uses a fine tube, a big ballpoint pen for packing cases, Movies, colour still photos, but not a reliable fountain pen with a nib. Electric torches. Diesel, petrol, steam and electric cars. Most Sherlock Holmes films/TV set in Victorian times show London of a pre Holmes era. Maxwell, a Victorian, really proved the speed of Light and it was a constant. The Victorians invented a kind of CRT (in UK and Germany). A computer was a person. The first real computer was by Konrad Zuse, working by 1938. Fortunately the German Military wasn't much interested.

The Napoleonic era had optical telegraph and codes introduced due to financial fraud (what we'd call wire fraud/hacking).
The first "spam" messages where in Victorian London when telegraphs could be installed outside of post offices.

#8  Pajamaman 05-23-2020, 12:18 PM
Harry T uploaded a proofread copy to mobileread some time back. Thanks to him. Perhaps the OP could add the link to her initial post?

As I understand it, this book was a very popular for younger readers until recently. It fell from favor because, quelle horreur, it portrays smugglers in a positive light. Also though it was written in the 1800s, it mimics 1700s English. The faux-antique style probably caused it to no longer being presented to younger audiences, though readerships prior to the 80s seemed to have no problem with the style. Also they seemed not to be corrupted by any moral ambiguity.

The build up is quite gradual but has very rich characterization and evokes a Cornwall fishing village in the 1700s beautifully. The author's style is fluid and engaging. And he hooks in the early book with a somewhat creepy mystery surrounding the church.

#9  AnotherCat 05-23-2020, 07:42 PM
I had this book read between close of nominations and this thread being put up, that as penance for getting so far behind with the previous two month's choices. But I enjoyed it, not surprising as I get on well with the likes of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Catriona, Rider Haggard's books, etc.

The MobileRead's library copy contains all the errors of the Gutenberg copy (and all other free ebook versions I found seemed to be of the Gutenberg version including the errors). All the errors are minor and easily understood except there is one jumbled paragraph which one will identify when getting to it because two names get mixed up.

There is a scanned true copy of the actual book at the Hathitrust Digital Library ( ) and I ended up building a more correct ebook using the Gutenberg version corrected from the Hathitrust scan.

#10  AnotherCat 05-23-2020, 07:50 PM
Regarding the Ararat Milk I also thought it was a raki ("Lions Milk") type spirit as they turn milky when water is added. As the Revenue did not seem to be interested in it I assumed it was locally brewed, perhaps from beets?

I haven't found any reference to the use of the term Ararat Milk anywhere except those directly associated with the book Moonfleet. So I wondered if the name was just one made up by the author?

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