Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy

I know, I know, I know! I keep swearing I won’t read anymore Hardy, except for Jude the Obscure, and then I keep doing it anyway. What can I say, the mini-series was good and it was on sale, so I thought I’d give it a whirl in the hopes that Hardy took a happy pill like when he wrote Return of the Native.

Someone should have given the man a larger supply of happy pills. Seriously, Hardy can make a jovial party sound like a dirge.

Fancy Day returns to her native village to become the new school mistress. Dick Dewy falls in love with her at first sight and tries his best to make a good impression on her. Fancy likes Dick, but is hesitant to return his affections as she knows her father wants better for her. She is educated to a much higher standard than Dick and as such, her father meant her to rise in the world instead of remain where she was born. Nonetheless, she is attached to Dick. When she receives proposals from both Dick and the new vicar, she is at a loss as to what to do. Meanwhile, the village is undergoing a struggle between the musicians, who have always provided music for the church services, and the new vicar, who would like to replace them with an organ, played by Fancy Day.

There’s not really a whole lot to this story, and frankly, the mini-series was better. They fleshed the story out a bit and made Fanny less wishy-washy and better able to stand on her own. They also left out the melancholic note that Hardy manages to let seep into all of his works. It gives the story a happier air, even though not everyone in it is a winner. All in all, it was so-so. If you’re looking for a quick introduction to Hardy, this is probably a good place to start. Still, it’s definitely not the best of his work. 3 out of 5.


Anonymous said...

I wasn't familiar with this one before reading your review. Despite the despair I've always had a soft spot for Hardy, so I'll have to give this one a try.

Laura's Reviews said...

I liked the mini-series, but this review makes me think I should definitely read some of my other Hardy books first (like Jude the Obscure!)