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The woodlanders: A novel (Harper's Franklin square library) Unknown Binding – 1887

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 67 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Brothers (1887)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006ADUSI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Morena VINE VOICE on 29 July 2008
Format: Paperback
The other Hardy novels I've read, Return of the Native and Tess of the d'Urbervilles, centre around exotic, sensual women who stand out like a sore thumb in their community. Grace Melbury is no such heroine - she's more real. Instead of heaping superlatives on her, Hardy tells us early on that she looks completely unremarkable and that "what people therefore saw of her in a cursory view was very little; in truth, mainly something that was not she". She's a cautious, intelligent but sometimes naive girl, who's been alienated from her rustic roots through the faraway education and travels that her proud father insisted upon for his only, adored child. There's nothing innately special about Grace, but she bears her unwanted position gracefully. Then suddenly, she finds herself in a situation where resignation and grace are not enough. She takes responsibility for her actions, rebels and finds her passions. And then, in the end, she makes the best of her lot in an unexpected way. She's no idol, but a woman we can sympathise with, who finds she has to make tough choices and sacrifices as she grows up.

Typically, there is no neat happy ending. The book is filled with images of unilateral taking and longing. Each character aspires to someone 'superior'. Felice Charmond, the lady of the manor at the top of the scale, doesn't even know what she wants, as long as it will stave off her boredom for a few hours. She lives a rootless, vain life, involving herself in Little Hintock only to exploit it. Nobody has much to call their own - it's life for rent. Marty's hair, the life-hold cottages which must revert back to Mrs. Charmond, even the villager's own dying bodies which Fitzpiers tries to buy for scientific experiments.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By fieduffy on 7 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
This was the first Hardy novel I read - I chose it after hearing it was his favourite.

An enthralling account of the countryside of 1880's Dorset; Hardy's descriptions - which clearly show his love for the area - have stayed with me. It focuses on a tiny community reliant on the surrounding New Forest, into which comes a young doctor. Soon discontented with the "backwardness" of the woodlanders' lives, he becomes involved in a love triangle with tragic consequences.

Any lover of the English countryside, romantic fiction or those with a passion for words, will enjoy this book, particularly if you enjoy being prompted to consider arguments such as whether education makes us more or less happy and who knows better - the modern urbanites or the settled countryfolk.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By amy.cox@comet.co.uk on 12 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
In 'The Woodlanders', Hardy explores the tensions between the rural working class and the educated middle class through the character of Grace Melbury, the local timber merchant's daughter. The story follows Grace's struggles to fit into a society where she is rejected by the class into which she has been educated, on account of her lowly birth. This is symbolised by her vacillations between her two suitors, the educated and intelligent Dr. Edred Fitzpiers and the simple and kind-hearted Giles Winterborne.
The woodland setting which dominates the lives of the characters is beautifully evoked by Hardy's richly detailed prose, and Hardy's sympathies clearly lie with the rural characters, in contrast with the middle classes characters of Fitzpiers and Mrs. Charmond who are often rather one-dimensional.
Grace herself is not a compelling heroine, lacking emotional depth at times and the story misses the power and emotional insight of some of Hardy's other works which tackle similar issues. However, I would still recommend it as a balanced and involving story of the interwoven lives of a remote rural community of the kind that Hardy understands as well as any other English writer.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 12 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
This never gets rated as one of Hardy's 'great' novels (Tess, Jude, Native, Crowd) but it's always been my favourite. Something about the characters and their interactions just speaks to me.

As it is Hardy, expect melodrama, coicidences, and gut-wrenching emotions, but unlike so many books written today this is packed full of real characters, real emotion and a real plot.

If you've never read Hardy before, this probably isn't an ideal place to start (try Tess, or for a lighter Hardy Far from the Madding Crowd), but then come back to this. I have read and re-read repeatedly and still cry - a sign of a superlative writer and story-teller.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Why do there seem to be so many underrated novels? Perhaps in this case it is because Hardy has written so many great novels. In my opinion, "The Woodlaners," "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" and "Far from the Madding Crowd" are is chef-d'oeuvres.
Although the genesis of the novel may seem quite difficult, it soon becomes an absolute pleasure to read. In portraying the life Grace Melbury and Giles utter devotion for her Hardy surely produces a novel of tragic proportions - even worth of the tragedy of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." Hardy succeeds in creating characters whom we loathe and whom we love by weaving a complex mood where passion, money , ambition and love are principal themes. His descriptive power is hypnotic and he is surely one of the best writers ever.
"The Woodlanders" was the first Thomas Hardy that I read and I would recommend it highly to anyone who has not read Hardy before.
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