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vicki (skiourophile/bibliolathas)

I worry that I find Hardy so unmemorable plot-wise, but in this one all I have to do is think of that scene with Bathsheba's sheep (no spoilers!) and it all comes back. I think I prefer his poetry on the whole though - shorter! Have you read his 'The Convergence of the Twain' on the Titanic?


Hmm. I DO have this book half read on my nightstand. I'd better check out Stefanie.


Second post I've read of this book in just a few days. Prompting me to move Far From the Madding Crowd closer to the top of my list- it's certainly lingered on there long enough!


His plots do tend to go in peaks and valleys. I forgot how descriptive some of the story gets--the pastoral? So that is why my reading lulled along the way. But he certainly does have his moments! I have not read any of his poetry at all, but I think I should give it a try as more than one person has mentioned how good it is and now you do, too! I will look for Convergance of the Twain--I bet it is online somewhere!


You, too, eh? Sometimes it helps to read along with someone to keep that momentum going I find! Stefanie wrote about it perfectly--maybe between the two of us, you will feel compelled to go pick up your copy again!


I know just how those gentle proddings go! He is always an author I look at (I seem to have collected a number of his books), but then pass by for someone else. Nothing personal against Hardy, but it really helped being able to chat about it along the way! I have lots of lingerers! :)

elizabeth Wix

It took me a while to get into "Madding" - too much description at the beginning - but super when I got going!
Yes, Troy is the somewhat traditional 'bad boy' - so wonderfully attractive to us poor silly women.
Tess and Jude break my heart.
So emotionally devastating.
Hardy is deservedly stunnning!

Christine Harding

I've never been able to get along with his poetry, but I love the novels. Like you, I always feel there is something stronger at work - fate perhaps - which stops things working out in a particular way. But in most of the novels there are key points in the plot where characters must make a choice one or another, and by making the wrong decision they influence everything else that happens, and set out on a course that can only end in tragedy.


It does take a little time to get into the story-I thought so as well. But once things begin to get interesting it becomes a much more engaging story. I have only read Tess and a couple of his stories, and a novella, so this one is much 'lighter' by comparison. His stories most certainly are emotionally devastating. Sometime I really must read more about the man himself--am curious about him after reading a couple of his books!


He is really interesting, isn't he? I am curious about his personal life after seeing how things work out for his characters. Almost always things end in tragedy through a combination of circumstance and bad choices. I am not much of a poetry reader, but someday I really do need to give his poetry a go. He is someone I tend to return to and want to read more of but it's only after taking time to digest whatever story I've just read. Now I get to choose a 'new' classic, but I am not quite sure what I am in the mood for!


I have read "Cakes and Ale", a novel by Somerset Maugham about an author who resembles Thomas Hardy. In the edition I read, in the introduction Maugham strenuously denied that the character was based on Hardy, and claimed to know very little about Hardy. My knowledge of Hardy is not deep, but from what I know, I do not believe Maugham's denials. Cakes and Ale is a good book, but of course it is not a real biography.


Now that is *most* intriguing! It does make you wonder if he was in some way influenced by Hardy's life when he wrote the book. I thinking about which classic to read next but just not sure (lots of books sound good, but I want one that really calls to me) and as I have Cakes and Ale somewhere I think I am going to dig it out. Even if it isn't about hardy I love Maugham and it would be fun to read something that is in some way related to what I just finished--thanks for the heads up! (Am off to pull my copy from the shelf). :)

Christine Harding

I didn't realise Cakes and Ale was meant to based on him (but I don't know anything about Maugham). The Claire Tomalin biography of Hardy is good.

Liz F

I read a book about Hardy's later years called 'Winter' by Christopher Nicholson. It is a fictionalised account (I think) of his obsession with the young woman who inspired Tess and made me very curious about him so I acquired the Claire Tomalin biography as well as fished my copy of Tess off the shelf it had been hibernating on for years. Needless to say I have not got around to reading either of them - drat it! Winter is good though if a bit sad - I ended up feeling rather sorry for him.


I forgot about that scene in the tent! How could that have slipped my mind? Well done! If I hadn't read it along with you I have no idea when I would have gotten around to reading it at all!


You finished it - well done! I confess I have scarcely read any Thomas Hardy. When it comes to the 19th century, I tend to prefer French and American writers. Though it's dreadful really not to have read classics like this - I can remember all my friends reading it for their English A level exams! Fantastic review - I can certainly see why it's remained a perennial favourite.


Now that would be really interesting to read since Tess is actually one of the books I have read by him. I have yet to read one of Claire Tomalin's bios but I hear she is very good, and I have a couple by her on my shelves (Mary Shelley and Katherine Mansfield!). I know nothing about Hardy, but considering what his books are like he would be interesting to read about--it might explain a lot!


When I read that tent scene all I could think about was the letter Tess slid under the door and it never arrived. Poor characters try and come clean or share information and look what happens! Foiled. I am glad to have read it, too. I can't tell you how many times I have picked the book up and thought about reading it and then put it back!


Yay! I was beginning to wonder if I could actually manage it. This gives me hope that other languishing books (of which I have MANY) might follow. I think I prefer 20th century classics in general, though I do have a few favorites. I like French authors but haven't read any in a long time. And I tend to do terribly with American authors in general--which is sort of weird if you think of it--something to work on next year.


Well, as it turns out--when I pulled my copy I realized I actually have read Cakes and Ale but I didn't realize the Thomas Hardy connection--may have to read it again now. I am not sure my copy had any sort of intro or afterword so maybe not surprising I didn't catch on? I should read some of Maugham's short stories as I hear he is excellent--now there is following a train of thought.....


I didn't know either and I have even read Cakes and Ale. I need to go back and look the book over--and I think I must have written about it as well. I have heard Claire Tomalin is an excellent biographer--I have two of her other books--on Katherine Mansfield and Mary Wollstonecroft.


I don't really like these plot devices you mention. An unread letter ... and everything chnages. I find it a bit easy. Like coincidences. Still, that's not the reasons I haven't read hardy. I try and try but never got into any of his novels so far. How lucky you had a reading companion.
I wanted to add another classic to this yaera and was thiking of Will Cather. I own three of her books. My Antonia, O Pioneers and The Professor's House, which I bought after reading your review.


I know what you mean by these plot devices moving along the story almost being a cop out--for some reason it didn't bother me with Hardy--somehow it made the story more interesting to me, but then I am still not entirely sure what I think of him. In this case it really did help to have someone read along and keep me motivated! Willa Cather would be a perfect choice as her books are not terribly long and I think you would find the stories very easy to get into and stick with. I do love her writing--any of the three you mention are good--for once I have read all of them. O Pioneers is the easiest and perhaps the most 'simple', but still very good. I love My Antonia--maybe it is my favorite, but The Professor's House is really excellent, too--in a class its own. The first two titles are part of a cycle of Prairie stories, with Song of the Lark being the other. I was almost going to pick one of her books next but then chose something else!


I like Bathsheba too--she really does grow up in the course of the story. I liked your comparison of the two letters unread in Madding Crowd and Tess--I always find it fascinating when an author recycles a plot point like that, and I think your right, it does point to a fatalistic pov.

Did you know there's a new adaptation coming out in May with Cary Mulligan as Bathesheba? I've seen both other adaptations and liked them both.


It's funny as at first she rubbed me a little wrong, but over time I began to like her more and more and in the end I was sorry she had been put through some of what she went through and was willing to go through an engagement to someone she obviously didn't love just because she felt she owed it to him....
I had no idea the book was being filmed--didn't even think to see if there is a film version already. I love Cary Mulligan--think she is brilliant so now must go and search for information. Thanks for the heads up!


I am reading Far from the Madding Crowd right now and am marveling at the sly wit of Mr. Hardy that I don't recall from Tess. So far, I am loving it.

Also, I want to recommend My Antonia.


I Loved My Antonia and agree it is a wonderful book. It is one I would happily reread and I might just do that sooner than later. I think Far from the Madding Crowd was a much 'lighter' book than Tess. Even though it has some heavy moments, there are a fair few light-hearted ones, too! So glad you are enjoying it!


Yes, FFtMC is much lighter than Tess! and I loved it. I have a very dear friend who says Hardy is her favorite author and we don't quite agree on books but I know she loves the descriptive deep themes (She loved the Goldfinch tons more that I did.) so I am reading more Hardy to see what I can find and I'm glad that it was this. I really loved Bathsheba even if she seemed to give up her leadership of the farm once married. I'm hoping she and Oak live happily ever after.

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