I don’t know if this is the start of a trend. Another great classic that grew on me. I loved the build-up to the finale, which you sorta know was coming, but for a while there you are thinking “could this be one of those really tragic novels that you could not imagine classic stories usually go?” As it turns out the novel holds the tension pretty tautly throughout.
I use the word ‘tension’ here pretty loosely, because this isn’t exactly an action thriller. But I find there’s a huge feeling of satisfaction at the end of these types of novels where everything resolves itself.
It’s pretty good love story. Not GGM’s Love in the Time of Cholera level exactly, but a pretty decent one. I’m almost afraid I’m losing my edge here, falling for these types of stories.
Writing-wise it’s pretty standard classic English prose. Those with literature degrees please refrain from strafing me with bullets, because I’m obviously generalizing here. I’m not elite enough to distinguish the difference in prose between Austen, Eliot or Conan Doyle with Hardy, merely by the emotion they evoke. And Hardy is, in my highly technical and considered professional opinion, pretty good.
A quick note: I thought Francis Troy is one of the awesomest (another highly technical term – you can tell I put in a lot of effort in these reviews), smoothest, most dastardly playboy/badboy in literature. My favourite character in the novel, hands-down, and one of best I’ve read. In the spirit of the recent Star Wars fever, let’s just say Han Solo has nothing on this chap. He has the best lines, and I particularly like this passage, which, of course, resonates with universal truth.
Why, Miss Everdene, it is in this manner that your good looks may do more harm than good in the world.” The sergeant looked down the mead in critical abstraction. “Probably some one man on an average falls in love with each ordinary woman. She can marry him: he is content, and leads a useful life. Such women as you a hundred men always covet—your eyes will bewitch scores on scores into an unavailing fancy for you—you can only marry one of that many. Out of these say twenty will endeavour to drown the bitterness of despised love in drink; twenty more will mope away their lives without a wish or attempt to make a mark in he world, because they have no ambition apart from their attachment to you; twenty more—the susceptible person myself possibly among them—will be always draggling after you, getting where they may just see you, doing desperate things. Men are such constant fools! The rest may try to get over their passion with more or less success. But all these men will be saddened. And not only those ninety-nine men, but the ninety-nine women they might have married are saddened with them. There’s my tale. That’s why I say that a woman so charming as yourself, Miss Everdene, is hardly a blessing to her race.”
So yeah, I think the prose’s ok, and the story’s ok too.