The Highwayman’s Footsteps

Nicola Morgan, The Highwayman's Footsteps

There’s something about highwaymen, isn’t there? More romantic even than pirates. Less wet, at least. Or maybe not if you’re highwaymanning it in Yorkshire. That is also wet. And cold.

Nicola Morgan knows a lot about Yorkshire and its weather and its landscape. And I’d like to know how she was able to write The Highwayman’s Footsteps making it sound so old, so period. Many authors make their characters speak ‘historic’ and often I wish they hadn’t bothered. But her Will sounds just right.

He has spent his first 14 years believing he is better than others because of his ‘high’ birth, and his sex. After running away from his wealthy family, he quickly discovers that he might have been wrong. Will encounters a highwayman who relieves him of some stolen money, after which Will ends up saving the highwayman’s life and eventually they join forces.

It’s not important, but I’d have wanted to know roughly when this was set, from the beginning. I could tie it down to the nearest two hundred years, but could never have guessed the 1762 that is mentioned towards the end of the story. Maybe it would have made no difference, but I was curious.

Nicola has apparently based her book on a poem she learned at school; The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. I don’t know it, so couldn’t recognise the facts she had borrowed. Wonder if that would have made for a different reading experience?

I hope this doesn’t make it sound as if I didn’t enjoy the book. I did. Very much so. (And there is a sequel!) Not all that much happens in the first half of the book, especially. That’s quite all right. There is something restful about the pace.

There are horses. Plenty of them. There’s politics, and it’s revealing to see how men gained political power back then. Not much has changed. The same goes for drunken women in Durham. That could have been now. Soldiers who are neither worse nor better than anyone else, or if they are bad, there is most likely a reason for it.

And there is the curious fashion of putting food on your hair to make it look good.

I’d like to know what happens next. This is not your standard type of plot, so I’d say almost anything could follow in the highwayman’s footsteps.

3 responses to “The Highwayman’s Footsteps

  1. Funny. I just wrote a drabble called The Highwayman. There aren’t a lot of horses in it, but they are implied.

  2. Thanks, Bookwitch! Oooh, that Highwayman poem – I just love it. Makes me go all shivery. (Shivery is good, for poems.) FYI, the sequel features smugglers, caves, a snake, claustrophobia, religious hatred, execution by drowning, and trepanning. Interesting that you wanted to know the date – I hadn’t thought the reader would need to know, but I can see why you might. I will know for next time. I’m v glad you enjoyed it.

  3. I like hooks to hang my story on. Mister Creecher which I read recently, usefully began by saying it was New Year 1818, so one way is to casually refer to something people might know, even if it’s just a King, or similar. Next time I’ll just ask.

    Snakes? Claustophobia? Hmm.

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