Under the Greenwood Tree
Under the Greenwood Tree is the story of the romantic entanglement between church musician, Dick Dewey, and the attractive new school mistress, Fancy Day. A pleasant romantic tale set in the Victorian era, Under the Greenwood Tree is one of Thomas Hardy's most gentle and pastoral novels.

Under the Greenwood Tree Details

TitleUnder the Greenwood Tree
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 22nd, 1999
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN-139780192835178
Rating
GenreClassics, Fiction, Literature, 19th Century, Romance, Historical, Victorian

Under the Greenwood Tree Review

  • Duane
    January 1, 1970
    This is Hardy’s second novel and the first to feature his “realistic dream” setting of Wessex, which includes the fictional town of Casterbridge, in reality known as Dorchester and located in the south of England.Under the Greenwood Tree is a romantic novel with a common working class man vying for the attention and affection of a beautiful young woman who has several suitors to choose from. It kind of reminds me of Far from the Madding Crowd in that regard, but much more lighthearted. I like Ha This is Hardy’s second novel and the first to feature his “realistic dream” setting of Wessex, which includes the fictional town of Casterbridge, in reality known as Dorchester and located in the south of England.Under the Greenwood Tree is a romantic novel with a common working class man vying for the attention and affection of a beautiful young woman who has several suitors to choose from. It kind of reminds me of Far from the Madding Crowd in that regard, but much more lighthearted. I like Hardy’s writing and have enjoyed every book that I have read.4 Stars.
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Duane!!!!Sweet love story....Great atmosphere....Gorgeous writing.....Enjoyed it and look forward to reading Thomas Hardy again!
  • MJ Nicholls
    January 1, 1970
    Hardy’s third novel is about a string band that gets replaced by a sexy female organist. After that, about how the sexy female organist is pursued by three suitors and she chooses the poor, handsome one. How do students write theses on this shit? I have two ornamental degrees and I can’t think up anything useful to say about this extremely slight, simple novel. Except, I tried Thomas Hardy’s approach to courting at the speed dating last night. First woman: I wonder if you would do me the honour— Hardy’s third novel is about a string band that gets replaced by a sexy female organist. After that, about how the sexy female organist is pursued by three suitors and she chooses the poor, handsome one. How do students write theses on this shit? I have two ornamental degrees and I can’t think up anything useful to say about this extremely slight, simple novel. Except, I tried Thomas Hardy’s approach to courting at the speed dating last night. First woman: I wonder if you would do me the honour—no, the convenience, of marrying me. Response: No. Second woman: If it’s no trouble, I would like to install you as my spouse. Response: Drink poured on head (crème de menthe, with dandruff flecks). Third woman: I have decided to take a wife. You meet my needs. Response: Testicles kicked into the next village and served as meatballs on the platter of an unsuspecting toddler. Fourth woman: Marry me? Response: Sure, on one condition: you demonstrate a pair of functioning testicles. Ah—life’s little ironies. This book is simply nice, let’s not pretend otherwise.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    An optimistic Thomas Hardy novel? Is there such a thing?? Published the same month Hardy turned 32, this is, at least as far as I’ve read, the cheeriest of his works — that alone should be a selling point! In some ways it’s an exploration of the changes he saw enveloping England, played out in the changes to a tiny parish church. The story centers on Mellstock, a village much like Hardy’s native Higher Brockhampton, and the local church that’s much like his own beloved Stinsford. The story’s pre An optimistic Thomas Hardy novel? Is there such a thing?? Published the same month Hardy turned 32, this is, at least as far as I’ve read, the cheeriest of his works — that alone should be a selling point! In some ways it’s an exploration of the changes he saw enveloping England, played out in the changes to a tiny parish church. The story centers on Mellstock, a village much like Hardy’s native Higher Brockhampton, and the local church that’s much like his own beloved Stinsford. The story’s premise is simple enough: in rural Mellstock, church music has always been provided by the “string choir,” a group of local men who take their duties seriously, if not always soberly. Now the new pastor has brought in — gasp! — a mechanical organ to replace the choir, and, as if that isn’t upheaval enough, the new organist is a beautiful and educated young woman! You can imagine the turmoil, scheming, and romantic speculations. Although it’s a charming love story set to the changing seasons, Under the Greenwood Tree is suffused with nostalgia for the rural way of life that Hardy saw coming to an end. And for an author who doesn’t romanticize rural life and people, he nonetheless displayed a real sympathy and affection for them in this book. You can see why his family would allow his body to be interred at Westminster Abbey, as demanded by an adoring nation, but would bury his heart in the churchyard at Stinsford.
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  • Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
    January 1, 1970
    If you're looking for an enjoyable and relatively quick summer read, I highly recommend Thomas Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree or The Mellstock Quire: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School. This delightful little novel is one of the more bucolic and pastoral novels I've read in some time, and depicts the disappearing rural life of Hardy's southwestern England. This novel was first published in 1872, and was the last of his work published anonymously. This novel is considered the first of Hardy's If you're looking for an enjoyable and relatively quick summer read, I highly recommend Thomas Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree or The Mellstock Quire: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School. This delightful little novel is one of the more bucolic and pastoral novels I've read in some time, and depicts the disappearing rural life of Hardy's southwestern England. This novel was first published in 1872, and was the last of his work published anonymously. This novel is considered the first of Hardy's great 'Wessex' novels, followed by: Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), The Woodlanders (1887), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), and the monumental Jude the Obscure (1895), that ended up being Hardy's last work of fiction (he devoted himself to his poetry from this point until his death in 1928).Without giving anything away, let me say that the plot of Under the Greenwood Tree revolves around two stories. The first is the lovely story of the small group of men who comprise the Mellstock Quire (choir) and the music that they provide to the small parish church and for dances, weddings, and other community gatherings and celebrations during the course of the year. The novel is arranged in five parts, and the first four represent the seasons of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn, and Hardy describes the role of music in each. I especially loved the first part--Winter--with the quire walking through the forests and fields on a snowy Christmas Eve, and stopping to carol at each house in the county. Of course, time marches on, and changes are suggested, and these changes will affect the men of the quire and their relationship with the community.The second plot that proceeds breezily through the novel is the romantic entanglements that arise with the arrival of the new school-mistress, the young Miss Fancy Day. Almost immediately there are three eligible suitors vying for her hand in marriage, and Hardy does a delightful job of leading the reader through the seasons of the year as we follow the progress of the lovers that finally culminates with a wedding "where music, dancing, and the singing of songs went forward with great spirit throughout the evening."I loved Hardy's use of the local Dorsetshire dialect in his character's dialog, and mixed with his almost poetic descriptions of the rural environment and the seasons, the novel imparts the comfortable nostalgia of a daydream on a warm summer afternoon whilst reclining against the bole of an old oak tree on the side of hill. If you love Thomas Hardy, or just want a simple and effective plot, with some very good writing; this gentle and idyllic short novel is tailor-made for you. When you are done, pass it on to a friend, they'll appreciate it and you. I loved this novel, and will certainly read it again; and maybe read the first section aloud at a Christmas gathering some time.My review was based upon the Wordsworth Classics soft-cover edition, published in 1994, 146 pages.
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  • Briynne
    January 1, 1970
    I've come to accept that I'm the only person of my generation with whom I am personally acquainted that likes Thomas Hardy. It's fine. It's astonishing and amazing to me, but fine. This particular sort of isolation has it's perks, though; I like to think that Tom and I are buddies - you know, sort of us against the world. And through this bizarre, completely imaginary relationship, I had myself pretty well convinced that I knew what to expect from a Hardy novel. Not so, friends.I picked this up I've come to accept that I'm the only person of my generation with whom I am personally acquainted that likes Thomas Hardy. It's fine. It's astonishing and amazing to me, but fine. This particular sort of isolation has it's perks, though; I like to think that Tom and I are buddies - you know, sort of us against the world. And through this bizarre, completely imaginary relationship, I had myself pretty well convinced that I knew what to expect from a Hardy novel. Not so, friends.I picked this up as a part of my "books which have been made into BBC costume dramas featuring Keeley Hawes" reading theme of the moment, which also includes The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen. Since I had watched the movie, I expected this to be a little fluffier than typical Hardy fare, but I loved the movie and expected that to be ok. As it turns out, the BBC version was a virtual angst-fest compared with the original novel. Where was the class conflict? How about the poisonous effects of ambition or the suffocating tension of social censure? All of the themes which pervade Hardy, and make me love him, were palpably missing from this one. I hate myself for saying this, but the movie was so much better than the book. The heroine in the book was silly and vapid - Keeley's version was sensible and conflicted. The hero, sadly named Dick Dewey, was rather charming in the movie but was a little jealous and irritating in parts of the book. However, Hardy gets points for his descriptions and his sense of place. Also, his scenes with Reuben and the rest of the parish choir are wonderful.Three stars, and I'm closing this screen before I add another one out of loyalty. It's a sweet, harmless book - I just prefer a little more Hardy in my Hardy novels.
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  • Piyangie
    January 1, 1970
    Under the Greenwood Tree or the Mellstock Quire (which was the first given title to the book) is the first successful prose writing by Thomas Hardy. Having failed at publishing as a poet, Hardy reluctantly turned into prose writing without much hope of being published. However, the book was not only published but was also a commercial success, establishing Hardy as a successful and celebrated classic author. Being an early work of Hardy, the book is bright and optimistic, unlike the tragic tales Under the Greenwood Tree or the Mellstock Quire (which was the first given title to the book) is the first successful prose writing by Thomas Hardy. Having failed at publishing as a poet, Hardy reluctantly turned into prose writing without much hope of being published. However, the book was not only published but was also a commercial success, establishing Hardy as a successful and celebrated classic author. Being an early work of Hardy, the book is bright and optimistic, unlike the tragic tales to which he later on resorted to. The writing is beautiful with the use of his authentic poetic style, and his attention to detail in human emotions and especially to the beautiful rural landscape is remarkable; Hardy's architectural training must have developed in him an excellent sense to detail. The book deals with a double-plot where he dwells on a lost generation of church musicians and a rural way of life which was in danger of being replaced by emerging 'modernization', and on a sweet love story. They are interwoven and have produced an enjoyable story. There is humor though out the book mixed with irony and when your initial laugh has subsided, the truthfulness of the observation leaves you with awe. However, one negative thing I noticed in this book is Hardy's unfavorable opinion of his heroine. I have read only Far from the Madding Crowd other than this, and in both books this was a common trait. In both the books, Hardy is sympathetic towards his heroes and portrays them with excellent human qualities while he is critical of his heroines, always implicating them with flirtatious behavior. I wonder whether he had any personal grievance for him to characterize women as such. Overall an interesting story that kept me well engaged.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    (2.5) Between college and grad school I read Hardy’s five major novels, but it’s probably been 10 years or more since I tried a new one. Far from the Madding Crowd is one of my favorite books of all time, so I couldn’t help but compare Under the Greenwood Tree* to it – unfavorably, alas – as I was reading.Greenwood was Hardy’s second novel, published in 1872. That’s just two years before Madding Crowd, and the two are quite similar in a few ways: the main female character is a conceited flirt wh (2.5) Between college and grad school I read Hardy’s five major novels, but it’s probably been 10 years or more since I tried a new one. Far from the Madding Crowd is one of my favorite books of all time, so I couldn’t help but compare Under the Greenwood Tree* to it – unfavorably, alas – as I was reading.Greenwood was Hardy’s second novel, published in 1872. That’s just two years before Madding Crowd, and the two are quite similar in a few ways: the main female character is a conceited flirt who has to decide between three potential suitors; the supporting cast is made up of “rustics” who speak in country dialect; and the Dorset setting, including the landscape, weather and traditional activities, is a strong presence in its own right.But where Bathsheba Everdene, though periodically maddening, is ultimately a sympathetic figure, Greenwood’s Fancy Day is a character I could never warm to. As the new schoolteacher and organist in Mellstock village, she puts on airs and imagines she’s too good for Dick Dewy, a salt-of-the-earth peddler. She’s also incurably vain. “Yes, I must wear the hat, dear Dicky, because I ought to wear a hat, you know,” she says, even though Dick calls the hat “Rather too coquettish.”A bare-bones summary of the novel makes it sound more entertaining than it actually is: A set of country musicians (the “Mellstock Quire”) learns their services are no longer required at the local church; they are to be replaced by an organ. The novel opens on Christmas Eve and in the early chapters proceeds by way of caroling, cider drinking and dances. It’s rather jolly, but where is it all going? Then, once the plot takes over, Fancy’s weighing up of the wooing attentions of Dick, Mr. Shiner and Parson Maybold soon grows tedious.Whereas the passages about the rustics are brief, welcome interludes in Madding Crowd, here they are nearly constant and start to feel overpowering. “You are charmed on condition that you accept Hardy’s condescension towards his characters,” Claire Tomalin observes in Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man. They are harmless folk, but their rural way of life will soon be superseded. The novel is set a generation back, in about the 1840s, so has an elegiac tone to it, and Hardy’s subtitles suggest he was trying to freeze an image of a bygone time.Fancy’s directives for her wedding reception make clear the divide between old and new:The propriety of every one was intense by reason of the influence of Fancy, who, as an additional precaution in this direction, had strictly charged her father and the tranter [Dick’s father] to carefully avoid saying ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ in their conversation, on the plea that those ancient words sounded so very humiliating to persons of newer taste; also that they were never to be seen drawing the back of the hand across the mouth after drinking—a local English custom of extraordinary antiquity, but stated by Fancy to be decidedly dying out among the upper classes of society.This is a pleasant enough book, and at just 160 or so pages goes by fairly quickly, yet I found myself losing interest at many points and often could not bear to read more than one short chapter at a time. At this rate, will I ever get to decidedly minor Hardy novels like The Hand of Ethelberta, The Trumpet-Major, A Pair of Blue Eyes, and A Laodicean?*“Under the greenwood tree” is a line from Shakespeare’s As You Like It.Favorite unrelated line: “Clar’nets were not made for the service of the Lard; you can see it by looking at ’em.”Originally published with images on my blog, Bookish Beck.
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  • Jan-Maat
    January 1, 1970
    The least relentlessly grim novel of Hardy's that I have read. It only features culture clash and the inevitable defeat of traditional mass village culture by an incoming bourgeois one (bye, bye village choir) and one rusty man-trap.
  • Audrey
    January 1, 1970
    Reading this book was like seeing childhood photos of a good friend. I recognized Hardy's minute attention to the natural world, the way the seasons move through the countryside, and his ability to capture a person's movements and individuality so that I feel like I could draw his portrait myself. But the general optimism of the story was a pleasant surprise (usually Hardy = big downer). Here, we still have the fallible, three-dimensional characters Hardy is so good at delineating, but they are Reading this book was like seeing childhood photos of a good friend. I recognized Hardy's minute attention to the natural world, the way the seasons move through the countryside, and his ability to capture a person's movements and individuality so that I feel like I could draw his portrait myself. But the general optimism of the story was a pleasant surprise (usually Hardy = big downer). Here, we still have the fallible, three-dimensional characters Hardy is so good at delineating, but they are able to correct their mistakes, the circumstances of their world are not so aligned against them. In short, this is a sunnier Hardy, although there is a melancholy subplot in the country church choir who must make way for the more modern organ. As always, Hardy reminds us that it didn't used to be this way, and that we lost a little something in the change.
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  • Dianna
    January 1, 1970
    I love Tess of the D'Urbervilles for its scenery, but this book was ten times more enjoyable to me because it's still got good scenery; it's written about a group of rustic, drunk church musicians; and it's happy. Now of course Hardy couldn't end the book without making us question whether they'll stay happy, but I'll take what I can get.As a violinist and a lover of literature, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Reading it soon after The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language made it ev I love Tess of the D'Urbervilles for its scenery, but this book was ten times more enjoyable to me because it's still got good scenery; it's written about a group of rustic, drunk church musicians; and it's happy. Now of course Hardy couldn't end the book without making us question whether they'll stay happy, but I'll take what I can get.As a violinist and a lover of literature, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Reading it soon after The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language made it even more interesting to me, because this book is a perfect photograph of a past English dialect. This book worth reading alone for the part at the beginning where the string players bash clarinets. Also, it uses the word dumbledore, which means bumblebee. That's the first time I've seen it actually used outside of Harry Potter. If you don't like depressing books but you like beautiful writing, this is the Hardy for you.
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  • Victoria Rose
    January 1, 1970
    Honestly? I liked the movie better. There, I said it. I almost always like the book better, on principle if nothing else. But Under the Greenwood Tree was much improved by the heavy editing it underwent for the screen.Ultimately my argument lies with the two main characters, Dick Dewy (typically apt last name, as he is a totally limp character, once in love) and Fancy Day (again, indicative name: her fancy changes with each proverbial day). They simply sucked as characters. I adored the old chur Honestly? I liked the movie better. There, I said it. I almost always like the book better, on principle if nothing else. But Under the Greenwood Tree was much improved by the heavy editing it underwent for the screen.Ultimately my argument lies with the two main characters, Dick Dewy (typically apt last name, as he is a totally limp character, once in love) and Fancy Day (again, indicative name: her fancy changes with each proverbial day). They simply sucked as characters. I adored the old church "quire" members, and Reuben Dewy was a pretty cool and realistic father, but the lovers were sickening. Not only were they unrealistic in their relationship, but Dick was blind to Fancy's (many) faults and Fancy was more concerned about having a nicely fitting collar than getting her father's permission to mary her supposed true heart. I was sorely disappointed by the lack of depth in that relationship, once it finally occurred. But really, Fancy's horrible treatment of Dick, lying to him and NEVER HAVING THE LIE RESOLVED, that's what pushed me over the edge. You'll have to read it (or the Wikipedia plot summary) to find out what I mean.The movie, however, made Fancy your standard "good girl" (except when she plunges into the river to make out with the shirtless and gorgeous Dick), and smoothed over the unpleasantness of the novel.
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  • Fuzaila
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at page 59. I have better things to waste my time on.
  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Hardy attempts happiness. Tragedy is his forte.
  • Lynne King
    January 1, 1970
    Disappointing.
  • Elena T. (Eleanor26th)
    January 1, 1970
    Dick Dewy, figlio di un carrettiere e suonatore di violino, fa parte del coro della parrocchia di Mellstock, piccolo paesino immerso nella campagna inglese. Il giorno in cui il coro si esibisce alla scuola del paese, s'innamora a prima vista di Fancy Day, l'affascinante direttrice. Ma non è l'unico: dovrà infatti vedersela con numerosi altri pretendenti, fra i quali il nuovo vicario, il giovane e intraprendente Mr Maybold. Questi, oltretutto, animato da un desiderio di modernizzazione, è anche i Dick Dewy, figlio di un carrettiere e suonatore di violino, fa parte del coro della parrocchia di Mellstock, piccolo paesino immerso nella campagna inglese. Il giorno in cui il coro si esibisce alla scuola del paese, s'innamora a prima vista di Fancy Day, l'affascinante direttrice. Ma non è l'unico: dovrà infatti vedersela con numerosi altri pretendenti, fra i quali il nuovo vicario, il giovane e intraprendente Mr Maybold. Questi, oltretutto, animato da un desiderio di modernizzazione, è anche intenzionato a sostituire il vecchio coro e i suoi anziani membri con un organo meccanico..Certo avviene tutto eppure non avviene niente, lontano dallo stile Hardy che conoscevo ho fatto abbastanza fatica a terminare questo romanzo nonostante le poco più che 200 pagine. Sicuramente il brillante Hardy annovera opere ben più melodiose, ma è comunque un testo che un Hardy-lover può avere in libreria.
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  • Malum
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 stars. If you looked in the dictionary under the word "quaint", you would likely find a picture of this novel. It's a lot lighter and happier than other Hardy works, but not quite as good (to me, at least). There is a bit of a twist here that foreshadows Hardy's coming cynical streak, however.
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  • Elaina
    January 1, 1970
    This was the first book I ever read by Thomas Hardy and I thought it was so-so honestly...Sure, some of the time it was boring, but it was kind of funny also :P (The way they talked and everything made me laugh sometimes lol) I don't know why, but I always seem to wait until forever after I read a book to start reviewing it. Then I forget everything about it xD It is a bad habit I need to get rid of lol So sorry for this not so great "review" It didn't blow my mind or anything lol, but it only t This was the first book I ever read by Thomas Hardy and I thought it was so-so honestly...Sure, some of the time it was boring, but it was kind of funny also :P (The way they talked and everything made me laugh sometimes lol) I don't know why, but I always seem to wait until forever after I read a book to start reviewing it. Then I forget everything about it xD It is a bad habit I need to get rid of lol So sorry for this not so great "review" It didn't blow my mind or anything lol, but it only took me two days to read it though...it usually takes me at least a week to read a classic so I was surprised about that :P
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  • Clare Cannon
    January 1, 1970
    Hardy's style of writing is delightful, though his characters never get very close to my heart. Nor was I satisfied with the shortness of this novel, in fact, I think I almost preferred Tess' misery... at least we were able to understand her with some depth. This is supposed to be Hardy's lighter side, but the lightness wasn't very convincing, even if it wasn't exactly dark. However, for what it is, it's a beautifully written short story that helps to contextualise his other more sombre tales. I Hardy's style of writing is delightful, though his characters never get very close to my heart. Nor was I satisfied with the shortness of this novel, in fact, I think I almost preferred Tess' misery... at least we were able to understand her with some depth. This is supposed to be Hardy's lighter side, but the lightness wasn't very convincing, even if it wasn't exactly dark. However, for what it is, it's a beautifully written short story that helps to contextualise his other more sombre tales. It also makes vanity appear as a terribly unattractive vice.
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  • Brooklyn Tayla
    January 1, 1970
    My full review can be found on my blog: https://brooklynthebookworm.wordpress... but let me say this; my first Thomas Hardy novel, not my last by any means. This was written so well! I loved it and the characters!
  • Melissa Jacobson
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating 3.75This was essentially fluff and it was a good time but certainly not my favorite TH book. I liked the character and the plot was fast moving so it did hold my attention but it lacked any sort of emotional punch. Light, quick, fluffy. Not life changing but certainly a fun book!
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  • Bettie☯
    January 1, 1970
    I love Thomas Hardy and this was brilliant.
  • Ana
    January 1, 1970
    I was in the mood for a low-stakes pastoral novel and I'm glad to say that this one was delightfully full of noisy country folk and silly young love. The happy and a slightly ironic portrait of rural life was beautifully rendered so I'll try more of Hardy's prose.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    I chose to listen to this audiobook as part of what I anticipate will be an ongoing project designed to overcome my long-held prejudice against Thomas Hardy; a prejudice entirely grounded in my strong dislike of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. The experience of listening to this book has been less successful in achieving that end than my previous excursion into Hardy's work: the truly wonderful audiobook of The Return of the Native, narrated by Alan Rickman. That said, the novel itself and its narrat I chose to listen to this audiobook as part of what I anticipate will be an ongoing project designed to overcome my long-held prejudice against Thomas Hardy; a prejudice entirely grounded in my strong dislike of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. The experience of listening to this book has been less successful in achieving that end than my previous excursion into Hardy's work: the truly wonderful audiobook of The Return of the Native, narrated by Alan Rickman. That said, the novel itself and its narration by Robert Hardy (a descendent of the author? I really have no idea), are not without their charms. The plot is simple. Hardy opens with the story of the Mellstock choir, a group of church musicians whom the new vicar, Mr Maybold, plans to replace with a church organ to be played by Fancy Day, a beautiful young schoolteacher. Interwoven into this story is that of the romantic entanglements of Fancy Day, who attracts the love of three men: Dick Dewy, the son of the local "tranter" or carrier, rich farmer Frederick Shiner and the vicar Mr Maybold. The action takes place over close to a year, with each section of the book taking place in a different season. The strength of the novel is, not surprisingly, in the language. Hardy the poet is always present in Hardy the novelist and his evocation of the natural world and the change in seasons is breathtaking: paintings are created with words. The novel contains some truly memorable scenes: the dance which takes place at a party on Christmas night and the preparation for a wedding, for example. In addition, Hardy's ear for the language of country people is unerring and is lovingly rendered into sharp, often witty dialogue. In addition, unusually for a novel by Thomas Hardy, no one is depressed and no one dies. So the novel has an appealing lightness of touch. What I liked much less is the character of Fancy Day. She is silly, vain, shallow and manipulative. Frankly, all of the men who fall in love with her could do much better for themselves. My irritation with Fancy persisted through the novel and made me like it much less than I otherwise might have. However, near the end of the story, I realised that Fancy is no different from many young women. She is human and because she is human, she is flawed. But she is not vicious and has insight into her weaknesses. Hardy treats her with compassion and I eventually felt compassion for her as well. However, it seemed that the apparently positive note on which the novel concludes - a wedding - may not be the happily-every-after moment which on the surface it appears to be. Overall, this was a good literary experience, although not a great one. Much as it surprises me to say so, I prefer the grand tragedy of The Return of the Native or Jude the Obscure to this altogether more lightweight offering.
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  • Petra
    January 1, 1970
    As much as I love Hardy's stories in general, I just did not see the point of this book at all. Moreover, I was quite unhappy with the way he chose to portray the main female character, Fancy Day (I mean even the name just sounds stupid, doesn't it?). I never in my life would have thought that one day I would be giving three stars to a book by Thomas Hardy, but here it is.
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  • Barry Pierce
    January 1, 1970
    Hmmm this is an interesting little novel. Well, less a novel, more a paint sampler into Hardy's fabulous Wessex countryside. This novel would be nothing without the luxurious and rich prose of Hardy, or as I like to call him "Dickens of the fields". Plot wise, this novel is simple. A new woman arrives in town (the rather interestingly named Fancy Day) and she is immediately sought after by three suitors, of course. She is a strong and independent female character that is very characteristic of m Hmmm this is an interesting little novel. Well, less a novel, more a paint sampler into Hardy's fabulous Wessex countryside. This novel would be nothing without the luxurious and rich prose of Hardy, or as I like to call him "Dickens of the fields". Plot wise, this novel is simple. A new woman arrives in town (the rather interestingly named Fancy Day) and she is immediately sought after by three suitors, of course. She is a strong and independent female character that is very characteristic of most of Hardy's novels. The novel mainly follows one of her suitors WAIT!, hold up one second, this sounds exactly like Far from the Madding Crowd! A strong female central character with an odd name, three suitors, takes place in the Wessex countryside...? Yes, this is quite literally Far from the Madding Crowd condensed, which is quite interesting because I enjoyed them both, however, FFTMC is a much stronger novel, in plot and in characters. Huh. Read this if you are already a Hardy fan, this is an obscure little novel that really wouldn't be for anyone who hasn't read any Hardy and who couldn't fully appreciate his unparalleled prose.
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  • Peter
    January 1, 1970
    Thomas Hardy offers readers a surprise in this early novel. Under the Greenwood Tree is a novel of light, gentle humour, innocent characters who suffer no horrid fate or trama, and a conclusion that offers hope rather than despair for the future. This novel is so unlike Hardy's later novels that more than once I had to check the book's cover to make sure it was a Hardy novel.As a stand alone novel it is an interesting, if somewhat uninspiring read. The story revolves around a young lady named Thomas Hardy offers readers a surprise in this early novel. Under the Greenwood Tree is a novel of light, gentle humour, innocent characters who suffer no horrid fate or trama, and a conclusion that offers hope rather than despair for the future. This novel is so unlike Hardy's later novels that more than once I had to check the book's cover to make sure it was a Hardy novel.As a stand alone novel it is an interesting, if somewhat uninspiring read. The story revolves around a young lady named Fancy Day and her three suitors. The characters and their love trials as they meander forwards in the plot offer some interest to a reader, but there is little tension or conflict of note.I confess that my comments seem harsh, and I realize that comparing a young Hardy to the author of the later novels is somewhat unfair. To read Hardy is to experience one of the finest novelists of the late 19C. I believe it is important to read all of a novelist's works to fully grasp and appreciate their body of work.
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  • Fiona MacDonald
    January 1, 1970
    Oh dear, I'm sorry to say this but I was rather disappointed in this little tale. I wanted so much to love it, and fall head over heels in love with Thomas Hardy, but I found it too hard to follow, and didn't think much of the characters. Knowing how great Hardy is supposed to be I'm sure it was my problem that this didn't resonate with me.
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  • Paula Vince
    January 1, 1970
    This is my choice for the 'Classic with a colour in the title' category of the Back to the Classics challenge 2018. My main experience with Thomas Hardy consists of Tess and Jude, which both made me so upset, you'll never find reviews of them on this blog, because I refuse to re-read them. However, Far From the Madding Crowd wasn't so bad, and I'd heard people call this one more of an optimistic read too. I thought it might be a gentle slide back into Hardy, but on the whole, I was glad it was f This is my choice for the 'Classic with a colour in the title' category of the Back to the Classics challenge 2018. My main experience with Thomas Hardy consists of Tess and Jude, which both made me so upset, you'll never find reviews of them on this blog, because I refuse to re-read them. However, Far From the Madding Crowd wasn't so bad, and I'd heard people call this one more of an optimistic read too. I thought it might be a gentle slide back into Hardy, but on the whole, I was glad it was fairly short, since it didn't impress me much.It's a simple plot with a complex way of being told, and I think I prefer stories to be the other way around. But I've deplored Hardy so often for his tragic tales, it makes me feel a bit mean for criticising him when he writes a more optimistic one :) However, this tale is so non-eventful, I'd challenge anyone to make it to the end without saying, 'Yeah, well, so what?' at least once.It's all about the impact the arrival of one young woman has on several men within a town. Fancy Day is very pretty, but the most she ever seems to have on her mind is clothes, flirting, and wondering how she appears to by-standers. We know this for a fact because Hardy sometimes lets us glimpse her mental chatter. She reminds me of Dora from Dickens' David Copperfield, yet she's the school teacher! Am I the only one who thinks that's a bit of a worry?Anyway, three men fall in love with her. So it's not even a lover's triangle, but more of a weird sort of square. There's Mr Shiner, a farmer and church warden in his thirties and Mr Maybold, the new young vicar. And then there's Dick Dewy, the modest son of the local tranter (delivery man) who's in his early twenties. He's obviously the hero we're meant to barrack for.At the same time, the story follows the course of the male string choir, a proud and passionate group of musicians who have been playing together for many years. When Fancy arrives, they're told their services are no longer needed, all in the name of progress. The vicar and his warden have decided they'd prefer Fancy to play the organ. The poor chaps are forced to accept this, and decide to go out with dignity. I wondered why they couldn't just alternate the style of music from week to week, but I guess when we compare it to current church music, their modern counterparts also choose to move on, rather than cling to outdated forms for sentimental reasons. It's just a pity to see these men sacked from what they love, while their replacement is indifferent to taking on the job. We ask, 'So, is Hardy going to do anything for them?' The answer turns to be nope, it's just a tough call. Bad luck, guys. And as I say ... why is this story material?It's a tedious read and not an easy one. The book throws us in the deep end of arcane British country dialect. It's not just in speech, but peppered all through the story, as if the narrator assumes all readers will be locals like himself. We need to keep flicking to the glossary at the back, because so many words aren't intuitive. For instance, a 'drong' is an alley or narrow path between walls and hedges. And a 'dumbledore' is a bumble bee. I'm sure the very impressive J.K. Rowling must have known that one when she started planning Harry Potter, so I'm left with a renewed sense of awe for her extensive knowledge base, if nothing else.It all seems so ancient to us, yet characters often discuss old-fashioned times, as if they're coming from a completely modern standpoint. It gives a strange sort of feeling that our twenty-first century generation is just scraping the surface of history. It also makes me wonder how precise modern authors of historical fiction ought to be. I'm sure many of us don't know a fraction of the words Hardy spouts in this story. You just had to have been there to pull it off. Yet on the other hand, if you nail it too accurately, nobody will understand you. So perhaps in modern historical novels, it's not authenticity we're after as much as a good story.The descriptions, always Hardy's strong point, are lovely, with all the cloud, light and chimney smoke. He has some good, humorous dialogue too. But I've got to be honest, my final thought was, 'Tough luck, Dick. I get to escape from Fancy now, but you don't.'
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  • Bev Taylor
    January 1, 1970
    a short classic that [lays out a year in the life of the villagers of mellstock great characterisation made memorable that is built mainly upon the choir and the entrance of a young schoolteacher great to see how they loved in those days, their traditions and values plus of course how women were viewed. they did not come out well! an authentic recreation of hardy's own childhood bev
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