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on 22 November 2015
On the quiet, I'm a bit of a fan of novels of the late 19th and early 20th century. Thomas Hardy I would imagine needs little introduction to most and I expect that many of those reading this will have come across his work at school. I even liked him then!

Briefly, this is a story of a west country man's fortunes throughout his adult life and we experience his ups and downs. By no means is he a perfect character. But despite having many faults we are still drawn to him, I think because when it really matters, he does the right thing.

Of course a lot has been written about this novel, from the splotchy pens of generations of school children to the typewriters and latterly the computers of professional reviewers and I doubt I could aspire to adding much new. However, I think it's worth noting that Hardy's language in relating this tale is fascinating. Looking at it in the second decade of the 21st century, I find the words and phraseology fascinating. There are words that over time have changed in meaning, some have disappeared from use and phrases that you can discern from their surroundings that you therefore understand and only serve to delight. For this reason, this book is a historical record of a past time, not only in the way that they live, but of the ever changing English language. But even further than that, we learn how the poor were treated with a rudimentary facsimile of a welfare system and also the state of development of the criminal court system in that period.

But above all, I'm sure that Hardy wanted to produce a book that provides entertainment, interest and provokes thought. Through the ages, it has done that and still does.
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on 5 June 2015
Quite an amazing beginning, I was captivated - and thoroughly enjoyed the book. This is the second book I've read by Thomas Hardy and enjoyed the characters in the saga. As the story unfolds it twists and turns, leading one to think one thing only to discover another. Elizabeth the daughter has a lovely sweet character, and wouldn't want to hurt anyone. Michael, the dominant male character, one is lead to believe that he has quite a mean streak but I felt underneath all the show that he was a sad man, really wanting to have someone dear. He regrets a decision he made at the beginning of the book and has to learn to live with that. As one follows through his life, his rise to fame and affluence is quite something, but he looses it all. Elizabeth isn't who he thought she was, and is so disappointed. Donald, is also an intriguing character, full of charm, not wanting to upset anyone, but he is astute and very good at business..... So without ruining the plot, I would recommend the book, get wrapped up in the characters and you'll find that at the end you feel as though you've been part of the sequences which have unfolded before your eyes, leaving you quite breathless.
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on 18 June 2016
Hardy was a talented writer and his evocation of nature and country life is usually quite brilliantly done. This novel does again bring his nostalgic countryside world to life; however, the twists and turns of the story make this seem like an oddly well-written soap opera, rather than a great novel. Often the plotting and coincidence lack credibility, with the net effect that you lose any real interest in the characters as they are pushed this way and that for the purposes of the author. Well written, but overall, an empty kind of story.
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on 23 February 2018
It is a great book and I am glad to have, finally, read it. It comes - though I didn't realise this - with Far From the Madding Crowd. I started Far From the Madding Crowd in this edition, but had to give up , because of all the awful typos and sentences which don't make sense. I have downloaded another edition which is looking good, with none of the errors of the one I am now reviewing. Thomas Hardy is a great writer!
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on 5 April 2013
Many years ago I read "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" and was less than impressed with the eponymous "heroine" and from that day forward, I have neglected to delve into any of Hardy's other works. After a conscious decision to read more classic literature, I decided to read "Mayor of Casterbridge" as it was recommended to me as a far less depressive, more gripping work.

Michael Henchard, the Mayor of the title, is a difficult protagonist to sympathise with; he is rash, critical and vengeful. Frequently throughout, I found myself yearning to turn him from his ill-advised course of action; this shows the skill of Hardy in crafting believable, realistic characters.

The storyline is undoubtedly tragic (as Hardy's novels typically are) yet is less purposefully depressing and he does not lead the reader to feel emotion for the characters but rather allows one to reflect and sympathise with certain individuals on a very human basis; all their flaws and idiosyncrasies are so real that you cannot help but feel a level of understanding. No character is perfect within "Mayor of Casterbridge" and that makes it far more appealing.

The descriptive elements that Hardy employs are vivid and do not taint the flow of the novel; there are no long, meandering paragraphs to impart to the reader various sights of the countryside which I find distracting and unnecessary. Hardy manages to weave his effective descriptive talents into the telling of the story.

It is a wonderful, gripping novel which I am so pleased that I have finally read. Next on the list..."Far From the Madding Crowd"!
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on 1 September 2015
I loved this book, I am a complete convert to Thomas Hardy and am saddened to think I have left it this long before delving in! He has a wonderful way of painting a picture with his words! You all of a sudden can see exactly what he is saying even though the language is so unlike the way we would talk today, I love it!
Henchard arrives in town with his wife and baby daughter with very little money and no job, After a very stupid drunken act he throws his and his families lives into a downward spiral that he never escapes. He moves to Casterbridge and over the years things seem to be on the up for him, but as I said he can never make right the mistake he made and he is to live a nightmare for what he did. A great story, very well thought out and written, a brilliant book.
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on 30 July 2017
Thomas Hardy as usual presents the reader with a terrific mix of deliciously flawed and complicated characters. While his prose can be on the weighty side, this is a cracking plot with more twists than a dance floor in Chubby Checker night. This was a free edition, so I shouldn't moan too much, but Chapter 20 notably ends mid-sentence and then Chapter 21 commences, requiring the reader to seek a chapter synopsis before continuing. This is a real shame and the reader loses some crucial plot development within the absent text, not to mention it is the first time two important characters meet, so we miss all the fun of their first interaction. I hope this can be ratified and a full version is available on Kindle because those four stars above this writing seen like they need a fifth so as to not leave them wanting.
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on 28 February 2014
A man who can't escape his past. The story starts with a shocking scene where in a drunken stupor our anti-hero Henchard sells his wife and child for 5 guineas. He vowes never to drink again and completely rebuilds his life to become a successful corn merchant and mayor of Casterbridge. Gradually all the characters from his past return to haunt him, his talent for making the wrong decisions, a bad temper and a good dose of fate / coincidences lead to a gripping and desperate tale of this mans complete and utter demise. Sounds dreary, but really is cracking good read. Much less flouncy than other Victorian novels I've read and far easier to read than Dickens. Note there is still a small section of chpt 20 missing, but not enough to spoil plot. Enjoy!
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on 3 December 2014
Arrived within 2 days as I had prime membership- excellent condition, as if it was fresh off the press! Love how cheap it is for literature students like me (I need to buy numerous books and the costs add up) and the language guidelines and explanations at the back help me a lot- I don't need to constantly go onto Google to look up the meaning of a word/ phrase and they give background info on history. The foreword is written incisively and in a thought-provoking way as well.

With regards to the content, the story is written well, the descriptions are really vivid, but it is a rather depressing book for me- almost Grecian in its tragic ending (though some people may say otherwise).
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on 15 September 2016
When I was at school I hated Thomas Hardy and didn't understand a word. I was in my early teens then and now in my fifties I thought it was time to take another look. I love this book - the story line was so compelling I couldn't put it down. A little dated now in the dialogue but I found it be a page turner even though it was written quite some time ago.
I now love the work of Thomas Hardy and will read all the others. Interesting how our tastes change over time....
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