Saturday, 4 June 2011
Book Review: Under the Greenwood Tree
Author: Thomas Hardy
My Rating: 4.5/5
Synopsis: Dick Dewy is an honest, hard working countryman whom is actively involved in the local parish choir. One Christmas night when he goes carolling he glimpses the beautiful new school mistress, Fancy Day and falls in love at first sight. Determined to make Fancy his wife Dick sets about to win her heart but unfortunately Fancy and her beauty, has gained the attention of many young eligible and rich suitors.
My Thoughts: Most often when I hear people speak of their favourite classic novelists the first names to reach my ears are Austen and Dickens followed almost instantaneously by Tolstoy, Twain, Bronte, Wilde and even on ocassion Elliot. And while all these authors are wonderful 19th Century English novelists and deserve much recognition, I am always disappointed of the omission of a particular favourite of mine, Thomas Hardy. Thomas Hardy is best known for his novels Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd. And is particularly recognised for the way in which he wrote with such ferver of the social contraints of the 19th century.
I love reading Under the Greenwood Tree, because I love Dick Dewy and how he never gives up. His perseverance despite Fancy being vain, selfish and so susceptible to flattery, is so inspiring. I also love the characters, everytime I finish the novel I am always amazed at how well I understand the characters and how that there is not one true villain, but rather a group of real human beings who all have faults, dreams, hopes and aspirations.
If you are interesting in reading a Hardy novel Under the Greenwood Tree is a great place to start, it gives you a great feel for the themes and the style of writing Hardy uses which is exhibited in all his novels. It is also considered the happiest of his novels, and I would definitely agree, this by no means infers the novel is all "sunshine and rainbows" but the overall feeling at the end of the book is much happier than his other titles.
If you have seen and enjoyed the 2005 made for TV adaptation of the novel, starring Keeley Hawes and James Murray I encourage you to read the novel. Although the movie is lovely, as with most book-to-movie adaptations the novel is significantly superior and well worth the effort.