Thomas Hardy - which is your favourite novel?

(52 Posts)
MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Thu 21-Feb-13 15:31:20

Just that, really. I'm aiming to re-read them all over the next year or so, can't decide which I love best, possibly The Woodlanders or Far From The Madding Crowd.

DuchessofMalfi Thu 21-Feb-13 15:52:00

I've only read two - The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, both when I was at school (and recently listened to Tess on audio book as well). Shameful, as I live in Dorset grin I'm aiming to put that right over the next year or so too. I think I might make Far From the Madding Crowd my next one.

LindaMcCartneySausage Thu 21-Feb-13 16:02:22

Definitely Tess Of The D'Urbervilles. I've also got a soft spot for A Pair Of Blue Eyes.

KindleMum Thu 21-Feb-13 16:10:58

The Mayor of Casterbridge. I think it's a great novel and I still read the old, falling-apart Penguin classic that my long-dead dad gave me. He wrote a birthday message to me on the cover so even when the glue entirely gives up, I'll still keep it.

Quite fond of Tess and Jude too. Not so keen on Far from the Madding Crowd. The other novels are much under-rated in my opinion. Oh, I'm going to have to re-read one now!

Ooh, me too, Linda. Don't know why it's not better known. smile

BigGiantCowWithAKnockKnockTail Thu 21-Feb-13 16:15:39

I love Tess and my BF's is the Mayor of Casterbridge.
The Woodlanders put me off Hardy for years after reading it in English lessons aged about 14. I'm so glad my grandfather got me back into reading him.

MamaMary Thu 21-Feb-13 16:19:22

Love The Mayor of Casterbridge! I think it's his best. I also like Far from the Madding Crowd.

A Pair of Blue Eyes is quite immature compared to his others - read it recently.

reallytrulydisgusting Thu 21-Feb-13 17:07:00

Love, love, love Far from the Madding Crowd and really wanted to name DD Bathsheba.

Haven't read The Mayor of Casterbridge - will put that on the list.

LindaMcCartneySausage Thu 21-Feb-13 18:17:29

Yes, like the Mayor Of Casterbridge very much too. The Furmity Woman is comedy and Michael Henchard is a fantastic character.

A Pair Of Blue Eyes is quite immature, but lovely too. It's also rather erotic in parts - when Elfride knots her knickers into ropes in the cliff top rescue it's almost Victorian porn grin

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Thu 21-Feb-13 19:05:42

Does anyone like Return of the Native? I think it's one of his best. (wanted to name a son Diggory, but perhaps fortunately didn't have one....)

reallytrully - I love the name Bathsheba!

I read The Hand of Ethelberta recently and liked it, but it wasn't among my favourites.

Parsnipcake Thu 21-Feb-13 19:22:22

The woodlanders and the Mayor of casterbridge are my favourites. I love tess and Jude but they are sooooo melancholy. My dh teaches mayor of casterbridge to his GCSE class every year and makes me go in with a pot of Furmity.

Snazzynewyear Thu 21-Feb-13 19:29:02

The Woodlanders! Possibly my own overall fave although I really like The Return of the Native too.

PaddingtonBearsDuffleCoat Thu 21-Feb-13 19:52:50

I like Return of the Native too despite studying that and Toss of the D'Urbervilles at school. Eustacia Vye is such a feisty heroine, especially compared to drippy Tess.

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Thu 21-Feb-13 21:41:10

Think I'll re-read A Pair of Blue Eyes next then. I haven't read it for years, so can't really remember the plot.

Wolfcub Thu 21-Feb-13 21:43:22

far from the madding crowd is my favourite, I wanted to like jude the obscure but it was just too depressing

madlane Thu 21-Feb-13 22:26:53

Read FFMC at school years ago but overanalysed it (ruin a good book) so mine is Tess (appalling the way women treated). Thank goodness born in West in 20th Century! Clare Tomalin wrote a tome on Thomas Hardy which is intriguing.

LindaMcCartneySausage Fri 22-Feb-13 09:28:20

MiddleageMiddleEngland - It's quite interesting reading the Claire Tomalin biography before or after reading A Pair Of Blue Eyes, because APOBE is a based on Hardy's meeting and early relationship with his wife Emma. The biography is a good read in any case.

just realised I've never read The Woodlanders. I'm off to download it on to the Kindle. You've inspired me.

FFMC is good, Bathsheba has real spirit, but Gabriel Oak and all the dying sheep is so depressing.

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Fri 22-Feb-13 13:00:25

Linda - Thank you, I think I'll get the Tomalin biography. I've got the Robert Gittings one, but hopefully this will be a different slant on TH's life.

Agree about Gabriel Oak's sheep, but at least FFMC does have a relatively happy ending, more so than Tess, Jude or The Woodlanders, anyway.

tumbletumble Fri 22-Feb-13 14:08:47

Tess is my favourite

gailforce1 Fri 22-Feb-13 19:38:24

Read some of Hardy's poetry for A level and loved it. Must have a rummage and see if I still have a copy and re-read.

AgnesBligg Fri 22-Feb-13 19:44:50

hmm, maybe Jude.

Jude the Obscure. Poor guy. sad

bimblebee Thu 28-Feb-13 08:56:46

Tess is my favourite, with The Mayor of Casterbridge a close second. Jude was quite a brave novel of its time but quite depressing!
Hardy also wrote some really good short stories - give Wessex Tales a try before getting into his novels.

DuchessofMalfi Thu 28-Feb-13 11:07:35

I remember studying The Mayor of Casterbridge at school and sobbing my heart out at the end of it grin. I bet it doesn't do that this time when I re-read it! Reckon Jude might though. I'll keep that one for another time. Might be tempted to give Wessex Tales a go. Thanks for the recommendation bimble smile

Campaspe Thu 28-Feb-13 18:59:56

Jude is my favourite "done becos we are too menny", absolutely heartbreaking. I quite like the Native Middleage, but I will confess to skipping the opening, in which Hardy writes a very long description of hte moors.

moonshine Thu 28-Feb-13 19:14:08

Love Far from the Madding Crowd (and loved the Julie Christie film). Always really loved 'The Withered Arm' - it's the only short story of his which I remember now.

Sometimesiwonder Thu 28-Feb-13 19:18:45

Love al of these, but for a real tearjerker you need The Trumpet Major. Made me sob out loud and I'm normally a hard hearted sort.....

drjohnsonscat Thu 28-Feb-13 21:31:13

Jude. When I got to that bit I thought I had misread it and had to go back and read it again. Just didn't think you could write that sort of thing in books.

Also love a lot of the poems - The Voice is a lovely one.

Campaspe Fri 01-Mar-13 18:56:21

Drjohn - yes, his poems are amazing. I love The Five Students. Such a good metaphor for life in general really.

41notTrendy Fri 01-Mar-13 19:00:08

I recently re-read and enjoyed the Mayor of Casterbridge. Tess is on my list to re-read and FFMC. I once read Two on a tower which I remember loving but that was as a deep teenager. It may not be as good as I remember!

elly67jo Wed 06-Mar-13 21:29:43

I love Thomas Hardy. FFTMC is my favourite but also thought Jude was incredible.

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Sat 09-Mar-13 11:12:07

So, have done lots of housework this morning, just about to make a brew and sit down to start Two on a Tower as my reward!

Anyone else reading a Thomas Hardy at the moment?

Linda: I've bought the Tomalin biography, will start it very soon - thank you for the recommendation smile

Teahouse Sat 09-Mar-13 11:15:25

Read lots of Hardy in my late teens and apart from the absolute basics have forgotten almost everything about them. But last weekend picked up 5 at a charity shop for £ bargain and intend to re-read them after a more than 30 yea gap.

Reading Return of the Native and love it.

Andcake Sat 09-Mar-13 11:21:32

Intellectually Torn between Jude and Tess but in reality if I had to choose the one I love 'return of the native' just for the fabulous description chapters of the main characters. The teenage me just wanted to be the moody petulant mysterious eustacia vye roaming a Heath. Sigh just had to google the 'queen of the night' cheaper and re read it ahh.

threestars Sat 09-Mar-13 18:49:51

Oh I loved Two on a Tower. I also really enjoyed his short stories. For A level we studied The Withered Arm and other stories and I loved reading and rereading and rereading for revision.
Hmm, think I might just pop over to a book website and order it...

CremeEggThief Sat 09-Mar-13 18:54:43

"Tess". Closely followed by "The Mayor of Casterbridge".

ggirl Sat 09-Mar-13 19:07:26

God haven't read a Hardy novel since my twenties , definitely Tess and Jude were my favourites.
Must reread them.

gutrot41 Mon 11-Mar-13 17:09:37

Far from the Madding Crowd is just a stunning piece of work! Oh to be able to write like that. I studied it as part of my OU degree. Loved it so much I have recently finished Jude the Obscure, what a sad sad novel.
happy reading!!!!

cornypony Mon 11-Mar-13 17:10:41

read MOC at school - may try to read it again. Reading books at school always put me off them!
Love Tess.

knackeredmutha Mon 11-Mar-13 19:52:27

We've just done Tess for last book club book, most of us loved it. I read it at school but enjoyed it so much more with a bit of life experience behind me. Jude gave me nightmares. Think my fave is Mayor of Casterbridge, though.

EmpressMaud Tue 12-Mar-13 11:41:25

Tess and Jude the Obscure, a Pair of Blue Eyes and The Woodlanders, then Return of the Native.

The first I ever read (in my teens) was The Trumpet Major. I book I've liked least has been Hand of Ethelberta.

Wallison Tue 12-Mar-13 11:47:07

The Return of the Native. Eustacia Vye is just one of the best characters in literature ever. "I have made a bad bargain with life and I am weary of it" - great stuff.

Jude is just too much for me though - the misery is fucking relentless and Sue Bridehead has to be the most annoying woman ever created - vapid, shallow and obsessed with herself.

Longtime Tue 12-Mar-13 12:33:16

I only ever read Tess and Jude and found them both so depressing so didn't read anymore of his novels. As a lot of you seem to like these best I don't think they are for me.

craftycottontail Tue 12-Mar-13 13:10:58

Tess is my favourite, I read it the summer before 6th form in preparation for studying it. My stridently feminist English teacher ripped it apart with us over the next year but it didn't stop me adoring it!

Sapeke Tue 12-Mar-13 13:46:47

I read Tess aged 18 and loved it so much I didn't want it to end, and it turned out to have one of the worst endings of any book I've ever read. I think if I read it again now (25 years and marriage and kids later) I would want to get stridently feminist with it. I just recently finished Return of the Native, which I wanted to read ever since I saw the film but I'd always struggled to finish the opening chapter. I recommend it, but if you're a bit busy replace chapter one with "Egdon Heath, getting dark" and you're off!

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Tue 12-Mar-13 18:44:06

Sapeke - that really made me laugh! Sometimes I just read the first chapter for the lovely description! Brilliant synopsis, though!

Jude. "done because we are too menny" sad. The saddest moment in English literature. Fact.

thewhistler Thu 21-Mar-13 22:48:40

Wallison, with you in both counts.

I love the beginning of TROR but come from moorland. Do love your descriptive though, Sapeke.

I would find we are too menny even more heart rending if there had not been so many awfulnesses before.

Have to admit I feel Angel Clare should marry Sue as they deserve each other. Hardy does a good line in people I want to slap.

Greenshootsandleeves Thu 21-Mar-13 22:50:07

The Return Of The Native, definitely

TheChaoGoesMu Thu 21-Mar-13 22:52:13

Tess first, Jude second.

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Sun 07-Apr-13 17:50:50

LindaMcCartneySausage started reading the Tomalin biography yesterday and am really enjoying it. A totally different view to Robert Gittings. Thank you for the recommendation.

Sybilvimes Sun 07-Apr-13 17:57:02

Definitely Return of the Native. I studied it at a level many many decades ago and I still remember many of the quotes.

Eustasia Vye is a cracking heroine, so much more interesting than poor old Tess. I loved his descriptions of her -

"Her presence brought memories of such things as Bourbon roses, rubies, and tropical midnight"

Sadly not something anyone has ever been able to say of me sad

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