Saturday, 4 June 2011

Book Review: Under the Greenwood Tree

Title: 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.

3 comments:

Jemimah C. said...

I've read two books by Thomas Hardy--Tess of the D'Urbervilles and The Mayor of Casterbridge. They aren't the best classics, though. Both of their ending weren't so happy. But Under the Greenwood Tree seems to be a lot better than the two ones I read.

Miss Laurie said...

I recently found a biography of Thomas Hardy and was actually surprised by the quotes from you books and poetry as well as his humble beginnings. I'd never really paid much attention to his written work choosing instead to judge by the dark and discouraging themes in the film adaptations of his works. Under The Greenwood Tree is my favorite film adaptation because it is lighter and the characters are charming. I do enjoy the story of The Mayor Of Casterbridge and I really like the character of Gabriel Oak in FFTMC. Thank you for this recommendation and if I get a chance this will be the first I read of his work.

~Miss Laurie :)

Tristans_Isolde said...

I agree with both of you. Hardy's work does have many dark themes which were very confronting. Tess's story was one that particularly moved me because she had such a hard and tragic life. Although I don't agree with her actions, I can understand her and I think the novel is beautifully written. But I definitely recommend Under the Greenwood Tree over his other works. Thanks for your comments I really enjoyed reading them!