THE GREATEST CAPE
- welcome to the world of Bodrach Nuwl ...
"Far off at the western edge of the world, where the green land meets the grey ocean and the wind never falters, Bodrach Nuwl, the Old Man of the Mist, rises a thousand feet above the sea. At his head the wind perpetually thunders, whipping the thin grasses and stunting the trees that lean and cling grimly with their ancient roots. He is so gigantic that each ledge and crinkle in his face is a little world in itself. On green, wind-blasted lawns the size of football pitches, whole populations of rabbits and foxes lead their lives perched in the air with no inkling of the outside world. Small crevices become great chasms, lined with trees growing from the rock itself, fed by ferny waterfalls and inhabited by finches and great dragonflies. Habitats here have no connection with the world at large. There are species of insect that exist nowhere else, and unknown pale orchids that thrive in cracks and crannies. Great caves loom open that from the sea must seem like the holes of sand-martins but in reality could swallow a small village and are inhabited by bats and blind snakes.
Behind the cliffs huddles a dismal little town. In the town is a church, and in the church are some pews. And under one of the pews is a boy, hiding from the Vicar."
Thus begins The Black Joke, the first of five novels that have been described as a cross between Treasure Island, The Railway Children and Deliverance, by turns exciting, amusing, charming, alarming, winsome, violent and strange - a rollicking read for adults with a childish love of adventure, and for children who aren't afraid of a few long words.
The "dismal little town" is home to an assortment of eccentric characters from the fearsome Urethra Grubb, The Worst Woman in the World, to the very decided Rosella Prettyfoot who wears big boots and knows how to use them. Events are eccentric, too - there are pirates, sinister clergymen, rumours of hidden treasure, a voyage to South America, an extraordinary railway ... and always, just a few hundred yards away across the salt-marsh, the looming sea that threatens and delights ...
"This is not a short book" said one reviewer, "and not one which can be seen off in a couple of hours but it absolutely demands once you have put it down one must get back to it as soon as humanly possible. The setting is dramatic. The characters are alive and their names wonderfully descriptive. The story is exciting and moves well. The complete book was absolutely captivating."
Learn more here.