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A tragedy of misunderstandings, accidents and bad luck
on 26 June 2017
Perhaps one of Hardy's most characteristic novels, this is a tragedy of happenstance, misunderstanding, accidents, and bad luck. There are no villains here, and yet our protagonists still find themselves struggling desperately against their fate.
There are some lovely images (Eustacia silhouetted against the bonfires on Rainbarrow), memorable characters (Diggory Venn, the reddleman), and moments of deep feeling (Charley's adoration, Eustacia's despair). And the uncaring, amoral, almost animal presence of Egdon Heath broods over the entire story.
It's been some time since I've read Hardy and I'd almost forgotten how rich his writing is, and how funny he can be (Granfer Cantle, Christian!). The main takeaway, though, is that of lives spoiled, tainted, not entirely blameless, but wasted all the same.