According to my Goodreads account, I joined on March 3, 2008, and started making a list of books (mostly classics) that I wanted to read. Some of those book are still on my TBR shelves and have been haunting me for more than ten years. Two of them are less-famous works by Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree and A Pair of Blue Eyes -- which I recently discovered were available on audiobook download from the library. After ten years, I was finally inspired to take a crack at Under the Greenwood Tree, which sounded like just thing to listen to while walking the dog in my pastoral neighborhood.
Hill near my house.
Some of the neighbors.
The book begins with a group of local musicians in the rural village of Mellstock. They're out making the rounds on Christmas Day, as one does. There are fiddlers and singers from the choir, and as they're out and about, one of the members named Dick Dewy sees the young schoolmistress and is instantly smitten. Fancy Day (her real name) is beautiful and educated, and the local vicar is planning on replacing the traditional choir with Miss Day as the new organist. The vicar is also very attracted to Fancy, as is Frederic Shiner, a local farmer. It seems like the odds are against Dick and Fancy's match, especially because Fancy herself is rather flirtatious with other men, and seems to take Dick's love for granted.
This is Hardy's second published novel, and though I enjoyed it, there's not that much to it. The writing was good (despite my dislike of dialect) but the plot isn't terribly complex and I didn't think the characters were particularly well-developed -- it almost felt like this could have been part of a longer novel with more back story or plot complications. This book had some good points but I really expected more drama given the circumstances. It's a very quick read, under 200 pages, and it wouldn't be a bad place to start with Thomas Hardy if you're a little intimidated by Tess of the D'Urbervilles or Jude the Obscure.
I still have Jude on the TBR shelves and I've just started A Pair of Blue Eyes so I plan on making lots of progress with my Hardy reading list. I'm also intrigued by Desperate Remedies which is apparently more of a Victorian Sensation novel, which sounds like fun.
Anyone else read Under the Greenwood Tree? How do you think it compares to other books by Hardy?