I liked this book. Even though it was the same no-frills style of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, it was a lot cheerier. The characters still had a difficult time of it, but they didn’t suffer quite the hardships as Tess and also didn’t suffer the moral anguish Tess made herself suffer. I think Hardy’s point of success in life through hard work, sense and morals was better made in Far From a Madding Crowd. The characters were likeable, at least those who were supposed to be, and Hardy built up a good picture of what life might have been like in rural areas at the time. It was interesting to see how the social structure of farms worked, especially the labour markets that took place once a year.
All in all it’s a good book and one I would recommend for anyone who likes the literature of the time. Hardy is less romantic than many of the century’s earlier authors, but is still engaging and a good story teller.