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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic
I adore Thomas Hardy's work. I recently re- read this beautiful novel. Under the Greenwood tree is a poignant little novel. It is a tale of a traditional country community, it's choir, which is under threat and a romance. The novel highlights the beginnings of change for such communities, through the travails of the "Melstock Quire", which is being threatened by the...
Published on 20 Feb. 2008 by A. Hope

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Under Hardy's standards?
This is my first Thomas Hardy book, recommended as it eases you into his style of writing, and man alive is it a strange style! Hardy makes sure the conversations of country folk sound genuine so you get a lot of "ye", "o'ny", "squizzling", "stimmilent", "onmistakable", "husbird", all of which takes a lot of getting used to...
Published on 12 Feb. 2010 by Sam Quixote


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Classic, 20 Feb. 2008
By 
A. Hope "bookcrossing ali" (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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I adore Thomas Hardy's work. I recently re- read this beautiful novel. Under the Greenwood tree is a poignant little novel. It is a tale of a traditional country community, it's choir, which is under threat and a romance. The novel highlights the beginnings of change for such communities, through the travails of the "Melstock Quire", which is being threatened by the introduction of a new organ. Meanwhile Dick Dewey pursues school mistress Fancy Day - although he is not her only admirer. There is a gentleness and warmth to the characters we meet in Melstock, their traditions and concerns become ours, it is an absolute joy, a real timeless clasic. Hardy's England is a place I could happily live I think.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to get into, but worth the effort, 13 Sept. 2012
Difficult to get into, but worth the effort

I confess though that the book took me a while to get into. While the very opening was a wonderful description of place, as became typical of Hardy's later writing, he then launches into a very confused scene.

As a reader, my preference is always for characters to be introduced fairly slowly, one at a time, so you can get to distinguish between them and learn to love or hate their various characteristics. What we have here is a whole choir (sometimes spelled colloquially as quire) who are introduced to us all at once. In such an introduction, I found it very difficult to tell them apart. From there, much of the dialogue in the first half of the book was hard to follow. This is compounded by one of Hardy's notable features: his writing in the rural vernacular. Though noticeable in his later books, the speech here is particularly impenetrable at times.

The story really only then picks up in the second half, where two main characters emerge out of the crowd: Dick Dewey and Fancy Day. There is a very gentle romance between these two which is very engaging and shows off Hardy's great talent as a writer of romance. But things in the world of Hardy's Wessex rarely run without a hitch. Some family objections are thrown into the path of the two lovers, seemingly hindering them from their path to matrimony. Also, though they may seem young and innocent, at least one of the two parties, during the course of their engagement, does not exactly rebuff all advances made their way. As for the ending, I shall leave for you to see who it was that wore the wry smile and why.

I could not say that I agree with those who think this one of Hardy's best novels. However, as a work of fiction, it is as good, if not much better, than most other works of the 19th century. Though it is very short, the denseness of the language in the first half of the novel should not be underestimated. But if you can find a tree to sit under for a couple of sunny days, then this would find accompaniment to that idyllic scene.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A dance to the music of time", 15 Jun. 2003
The painter Poussin's famous title might stand as a rubric for this lovely book. Hardy views his cast of rustics through the prism of music: the old church stringed instruments choir is to be replaced with the spanking new organ. There is the added romantic interest of young musician Dick Dewy and the female organist, Fancy Day, who is controversially going to play the large mechanical new organ.

This is a story of established customs breaking down through the interloper: a new vicar in town. Structurally divided into Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, it follows the natural rhythms of the earth and of society. Hardy revels in his descriptive powers.

Filled with nostalgia and that increasingly fashionable concept - "Englishness", and seasoned with wisdom and wit, this is truly fabulous - a mini-masterpice in a similar bag to, say, Mrs. Gaskell's "Cranford".

"Under the Greenwood Tree" was deservedly Hardy's own favourite among his novels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Under Hardy's standards?, 12 Feb. 2010
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is my first Thomas Hardy book, recommended as it eases you into his style of writing, and man alive is it a strange style! Hardy makes sure the conversations of country folk sound genuine so you get a lot of "ye", "o'ny", "squizzling", "stimmilent", "onmistakable", "husbird", all of which takes a lot of getting used to. The main character, Dick Dewy, is a "tranter" something I had to look up -it's basically a driver.

Anyway, Dick Dewy falls for the new schoolmistress, the ridiculously named Fancy Day, courting her with competition from Farmer Shiner and Vicar Medley. The side story is of the church "quire" (choir) made up of fiddle players being phased out in favour of an organ played by Fancy Day. I say story, that's it really. As for Dick Dewy, he of course marries Fancy Day.

It's a very gentle and good natured volume, a bit like reading about hobbits (the impression I got from their odd way of talking) and their obsessions with carol singing, cider, and "nutting" (something about gathering nuts). A cross between The Darling Buds of May, and the Wind in the Willows but the characters are humans. Tolerably quaint, even amusing at times. There is an attempt at drama toward the end which is quickly resolved and seemed, frankly, a bit of a cheap lunge at the reader's attention and is quickly resolved anyway. That said, there's very little here besides and I guess that Hardy's reputation comes from more famous books "Jude the Obscure", "Tess of the d'Ubervilles" etc. than from this novel. Not a great book but a nice introduction to Hardy's writing and, from what I hear of his other books, probably his least depressing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Undisclosed two for the price of one in this Kindle version, 15 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Under the Greenwood Tree (Kindle Edition)
It is certainly a more joyful book than any other of the many I have read. The biggest surprise was that in this Kindle version I thought I was a third of the way through the book when it suddenly ended. The remaining two thirds were provided in the form of "The Woodlanders" which I had already read - slightly confusing as I was unsure if this was a mistake and "Under the Greenwood Tree was not complete. However, having read the other reviews here it seems I have enjoyed the whole story which I would call a midi-story or novela rather than a short story or full novel. I am now looking unexpectedly for another book to read! The story is slow to start being mainly historical and descriptive in tone but once the main story begins to unfold it becomes a very absorbing and amusing read. I did have to rescan the earlier pages at one point to try and work out who was who but that could b my lack of attention on the initial read. I would certainly recommend it to TH fans but newcomers may gain a false impression and thereby fail to appreciate the breadth of his powerful writing skills albeit that I am sure most would enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle, happy read, 6 Feb. 2010
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Just the book for bedtime reading i.e. not too stimulating, though that is not a criticism. The characters are delightful and finely drawn and very credible in a nineteenth century, pastoral sort of way. The story is not predictable so plenty to keep interest until the end. The Notes at the back of the book are helpful and interesting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A joy, 22 Feb. 2013
Anyone who believes Hardy is unreadable MUST read this book, which is a real joy and the best I have read for ages. It is a happy rural tale, which flows at a great pace. There is lots of strange dialect, but this does not detract from the story in any way- it adds authenticity.
In my experience,Hardy's difficult reputation is unjustified- perhaps due to so many of his books being used for O levels, GCSEs etc. Only Jude is a problem read, partly because the subject was so controversial, and also because Sue must be the most unattractive heroine in fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the classics, 27 Oct. 2013
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Thomas Hardy's first successful story gives an amusing and honest account of a village choir, with the usual rivalries, plus a lot of honest common sense.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another classic by Thomas Hardy, who seems to deeply ..., 13 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Under the Greenwood Tree (Kindle Edition)
Another classic by Thomas Hardy, who seems to deeply understand the nature of the country people of this period and who questions their understandable but erroneous beliefs concerning human nature and human relationships. I am rereading this again after 40 odd years and still see the relevance of his wisdom to modern life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great value, 15 Jan. 2014
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Bought this for my Mum for Xmas along with 11 other classics, all Wordsworth classics. She's thoroughly enjoying reading them all and excited to have some new books to read as the local library doesn't stock a great amount of classics. The books are good quality and great value.
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Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
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