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on 21 February 2016
I am amazed this is the first Thomas Hardy book I have ever read, and can't believe it took me this long to read one by this fantastic author! My husband gave me the DVD of "Far from the Maddening Crowd" and I decided to read some of his other works, this being one of them.

The plot of "The Trumpet-Major" is fantastic, with so many twists along the way that I was shocked on the last page at the outcome!

To summarise, Anne is a woman sought out by three different men... two brothers and the detestable Festus! The scenes where Festus gave chase made me laugh out loud and cringe at the annoying man's insistence!

The two Loveday brother's are the "Trumpet-Major", John and Robert (Bob), an able seaman.

Anne had her heart set on Bob before he leaves for a career at sea, and finds that he is to marry on his return. However, the woman he intends to marry, Matilda, is known by John to be not "honorable". To save his brother from a bad marriage he puts her off the marriage, and then tells Bob what he has done. Bob seeks Matilda out, but then gives up the chase and stays at the Mill to help his father - and in so doing decides that Anne is the girl for him after all.

His brother, John, is heart-broken since he had already tried to obtain Anne's hand in marriage to no avail - whilst Festus continues his pursuit.

Bob eventually gets the call back to sea (out of duty and honour - and the fact he does not really like working at the Mill), where his heart truly lies, and ends up on HMS Victory on whence Lord Nelson tragically died in the Battle of Trafalgar. Due to his bravery, he becomes a lieutenant and then, after another foolish encounter with another woman, decides to try to get Anne back! Now considering himself more worthy of her hand by his promotion.

But, unbeknownst to him, John had nearly managed to convince Anne that he was worthy of her hand after saving her from scalding water. However, when John finds out that Bob wants to secure Anne's hand he decides to let him have his go. Always thinking of what Anne might want...

Against these events, Uncle Derriman has been hiding his possessions from his nephew, Festus, and needs Anne's help to hide his precious documents.

Ultimately, who does Anne choose, and will Festus become a rich man on his Uncle's demise?

I have to admit that I did not expect the ending at all and leave you to read it to find out.

Considering that this book was published in 1880, I found it easy to read and gripping! Highly recommended and free to download via Amazon.
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on 15 June 2012
Always regarded as one of Hardy's lesser novels, I still found 'The Trumpet Major' an enjoyable read. Over the rather slow course of the plot, you get a real feel for the 'smallness' of life at the mill, especially against the background of the military and naval preparations for war and the patriotism, fever and fear that grip the mainly under-informed but over-excited rural communities. Hardy's characters, though perhaps seeming stereotypical now, are well-developed and likable or loathe-able as appropriate and ever present is Hardy's obsession with a person's class or place on the social ladder.

It is slow to get going, though and indeed, the character of John, The Trumpet Major doesn't arrive until some distance in. However, when he does, his presence lifts the story and the plot starts to develop at a faster pace. The result is that Hardy leaves almost no possible romantic combination of his characters unexplored to the point where it becomes almost wearying and towards the end, the misunderstandings and breakdowns in communications between the two brothers made me want to scream in frustration. But then, that is rather Hardy's strength, isn't it?
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on 20 February 2012
Very enjoyable to return to a book studied in those long ago days at school. It is typical of Hardy's style with good descriptions and well described and developed characters. The Trumpet major himself is the least present person in the story but hovers in the background. Old famer Derriman becopmes very real as the story grows althoough he really is a minor member of the cast.
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on 15 January 2016
Not Hardy' s greatest oeuvre. Lacks the emotional depths of his later novels like Jude and Tess and does not convey the country colours of the era like Madding Crowd and Mayor of Casterbridge.
It is however a very accessible story and a good introduction to Hardy.
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on 28 July 2014
Lovely Hardy story full of twists and turns. It had a rather slow beginning but having set the scene it took off and was a
terrific story. My husband is a french historian and was very interested in the bits about the fear felt should Napoleon arrive on our shores.
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on 8 November 2016
Nice light reading especially on a tablet. The characters are rather thin and the story meanders in a rather inconclusive way but it just about holds one's attention.
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on 2 May 2012
Why does Hardy always put his characters through such struggles? Nothing is ever easy and there doesn't seem to be the provebial happy ending anywhere in sight. Still a darn good read, story had plenty of twists and turns, you just think everything is going to work out for the best when it doesn't! I suppose he really reflects human contrariness in all its facets, only taken that little bit too far some times. I await my next installment with bated breath, but it will be more of the same I'm afraid, as it is yet more Hardy!
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on 16 October 2014
I do love Hardy's novels. They really evoke a time before cars and modern life began. a life that was far more rural though, in reality, probably not idyllic.
This has a typical Hardy love story with various trips and turns at every page to keep you engrossed.
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on 25 September 2016
Perfection, as all Hardy's works are.
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on 1 November 2012
I love Hardy's famous novels and wanted to see an earlier work. There's a reasonable plot here and some attractive characterisation but the author intrudes too much and you do need a knowledge of the historical setting to appreciate references. I did finish it but never felt gripped as I read.
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