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Nobody knows how to write a love story quite like Hardy did.

The title of the book comes from one of the main players 'Clym Yeobright' who has returned from Paris to Egdon Heath to live once more with his Mother and his cousin Thomasin.

The fly in the ointment and the ultimate doom of nearly all, is Eustacia Vye, a beautiful yet bored girl who lives with her Grandfather and hates Egdon Heath with a vengeance. Today I think she would probably be called a 'tart' and a 'man eater'.

This is a fairly long book but if you like Hardy's writing you won't be bored by it as it gives vivid descriptions of Egdon Heath, descriptions of the locals and all sorts of old fashioned customs. It is a bit like a social history of times gone by.

My favourite character is Diggory Venn the Reddleman who ultimately saves or tries to save everyone from themselves.

A true masterpiece of the writers art and highly recommended.
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on 9 January 2013
A tale of doomed lovers set in brooding heathland, though fans of Wuthering Heights may find this a little underheated. The characters are often quite hesitant, and never actually betray each other as much as expected. Instead, their fate is governed by the corrosive power of suspicion.

The real star of the book is the landscape. Hardy has wonderful powers of description, and Egdon Heath will probably live longer in my memory than the slightly underwhelming storyline. The heath is as lonely, unforgiving and impervious to change as the people who live there. Superstition thrives here, and dreams are smothered. The distance between the scattered cottages has a crucial bearing on how events unfold: it's a place where communication is difficult, so suspicion and misunderstanding grow like the furze.
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on 25 July 2014
Having read all of Hardy's most popular books before this, it was on the list. However it takes a while to get going and the early part of the book is heavy on Hardys attempts (although successful) to describe in often laborious detail the scene of the countryside surrounding the plot. Once you stick with it, the main players are introduced and the twists and turns are woven, and not surprisingly untangled again. Well worth it to add to the fuller collection of his work but falls a little short of the brilliance of Mayor of Casterbridge or Far From The Madding Crowd.
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on 2 September 2015
There is no better description of the English countryside than the first chapter of Hardy's Return of The Native. I read it again and again and always feel right there on that moonlit path with the Reddleman. The story can seem a bit sentimental at times and the writing self consciously stylish but this is Hardy and there is so much beauty, wisdom and humanity in his work you can easily forgive him. Return of the Native is my Desert Island book and I cant recommend it more highly to anyone unfamiliar with this beloved authors work.
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on 14 May 2016
I chose this book to read to somebody who is older than myself, knowing that it would not have any over descriptive adult themes which would have been embarrassing - and I was correct. My first Thomas Hardy. I am trying an odd alleged classic book of all time every few months or so. If you are interested in reading what all the supposedly marvellous critics put forward as the great novels try Emma by Jane Austen before reading The Return of the Native. I am sure you will see what I mean. Emma is far superior, and an easier read, I always enjoy reading Emma. The Return of the Native is a bit long but I suppose once you get used to his style they get easier. Some people say his descriptions actually place you in the location, but I felt it was a bit blurred and long winded. Gosh am sounding a bit long winded myself now. To me it was pretty obvious who would end up with who at the beginning. Don't be put off though. I will try more Hardy - but would not read this again. A lot of people making silly mistakes and silly choices. Like an upmarket TV soap opera. But well written. And of course the download was free, which helped.
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on 14 February 2016
This was a book the like of which I had not read before. Whilst I did find it quite hard to read because of the language, by the time I had read halfway through the book I did find it difficult to put down. The final thought was that it was worth the effort.
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on 26 May 2016
This is a quite interesting book. The description of village life is quite interesting. The story is quite interesting. It's very much a made up story where you feel that stuff happens because the author thought it would be useful at this point for this to happen. Which is to say it's nothing more than a tall tale. It's not a slice of life. There is a laugh out loud sentence early on. It didn't excite me in any way. It was bizarre that the author should include a footnote near the end to the effect that this wasn't the ending he had planned. That was quite interesting. Although somewhat confusing. The story is about an interfering old widow who doesn't approve of her niece's marriage and doesn't approve of her son's marriage. But if she had approved there wouldn't have been much of a story. 
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on 12 January 2013
When i started this book i wondered if it would live up to the more popular classics by Hardy, such as Tess of The D'urbavilles. I am very impressed and it is definitly as good as the others that i have read.

This is one of the most atmospheric books that i have read. the descriptions of the area in which the book is set are incredible as is the story itself.

As is typical of Hardy, this is another tragic tale of loving the wrong person and trying to correct it before it is too late. The chararcters are very believable and i found that i could almost imagine living in what seems like these most romantic of times. The hills,the heather etc...

Overall a brilliant book.
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on 18 May 2014
Classic Hardy and extremely emotional!! This is the second time I've read this book and it remains a wonderful read!! Not only is it a story of unrequited love but also affairs of the heart. It might seem dull to some as Hardy muses a great deal about the landscape; but his attention to detail is amazing and it puts the reader right in Egdon Heath.

As with all Hardy's novels, the tale has a dark undertone throughout but it is nonetheless a wonderful read. It is worth taking your time, especially for those who struggle with 19th Century literature. I am so glad I picked it up again as it reminded me how much I'd forgotten since the first time.
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on 13 March 2015
My first encounter with this book was more than 50 years ago back in the day when I was studying for my A-levels. I remembered enjoying it then despite the pressures and thought that it was about time to give it another go. I was not disappointed.
There are some great characterisations and beautifully descriptive passages. The storyline is easy to follow but be prepared to be led astray by some hints in the wrong direction. There is a tragic overtone but some comic strands as well and is a good read before turning out the lights.
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