🌳 Because I love nature, it's only natural that I tend to be attracted to books where nature poses as dominant aspect. The Woodlanders falls into this category, and that's why I loved it!
🌳 I was drawn, particularly, to the simple life of the woodlanders; their occupation, their view of life, and their intimate relation with mother nature. I was also interested in the spars making craft (I didn't know what a spar is until I googled it). And that was, actually, how we were first introduced to this book: a simple nineteen year old girl, Marty South, making spars in the dead of the night to get paid in the morning. That's how woodlanders had lived, and, but for some influences from "outsiders", they would all live contentedly. And that's what this book is about - greediness and ambition which wrecked the beautiful balance of natural life in a woodland village: Little Hintock.
🌳 As I have analyzed before, I see Marty South as the centre of this story. She is reserved, calm, hardworking, and possesses enough skill for improving her life. Then the outsiders' unnatural greediness or ambition starts to shake her world. First, Marty must sacrifice her luscious long hair to be sold for money, just because Mrs. Charmond, a rich widow with many lovers, wants to have it as a wig!
🌳 The hair symbolizes Marty's femininity. Without it, she loses hope of ever attracting Giles Winterborne, a woodsman whom she loves, though unrequitedly. Giles is in love with another: Grace Melbury, who has been "promised" to him by her father.
🌳 The ambitious Mr. Melbury had sent his only daughter Grace to be educated abroad to improve her future. He takes back his promise to Winterborne, as he thinks her daughter should marry higher than a mere woodsman. A young doctor called Fitzpiers, who is charmed by Grace, is the one Mr. Melbury believes as a more suitable husband for Grace.
🌳 What about Grace herself? It is interesting to see how she'd view the woodland after returning from abroad. Would she be contented with her old life (and lover), or would she view them as flat and boring, seeking more refined, more amusing life and husband? It was amusing to see her blundering through her choices, in Hardy's universe, which was always ruled by chances, bad timing, and errors. Could Grace escape it all unscathed? But more importantly, how would she re-shape the life of those who are truer woodlanders?
🌳 Hardy himself had classified this novel in the group of "Novels of Character and Environment" [source: wikipedia]. And I agree. The Woodlanders is about clashes between classes and different environments, poor marriage, adultery, wrong choices. It's not a cheerful story, but it's Hardy, you can't expect nothing more, right? But no worry, Hardy compensated the gloomy plot with his rustic settings of the woodland and his usual beautiful narration. And also, with one of the strongest 'heroines' I've ever read.
Rating: 4,5 / 5
Further reads on The Woodlanders:
- Character analysis of Marty South
- Book cover art analysis
- Hardy's poem on Marty South
I quite liked this one when I read it, too. Lovely review.ReplyDelete
And I didn't know Hardy wrote a poem about Marty South. Looking forward to that!
Thanks, Reese! It's a fine way to open my reading year.Delete
Oh, it's quite a surprise too for me, a sweet surprise! ;)
I'll definitely get a copy of this. (And I've stopped buying literature for pleasure three years ago to contain myself. I've got enough to read.) BUT it's Hardy, and I haven't read this one, and this sounds like it will pass with flying colors. Hardy is my favorite: his writing style, his incorporation of nature, the pastoral themes - or simple life - and conflicts with typical human nature. The only Hardy novel I did not enjoy so far was A Pair of Blue Eyes.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your review! I needed a new Hardy to read. :D
You can always make excuse with Hardy, I'm sure! ;)Delete
I've been wondering which Hardy novel to read next. Thanks for helping me to decide!ReplyDelete
Glad I've helped you, JoAnn! At first I didn't think I'd love the story, there're too much bad timings and lost chances, but after I finished it, they are all faded away. Hope you'll like it too!Delete
It's decades since I read this one but I remember I really enjoyed it. I felt that I learned a lot, even about how to make charcoal, if I'm remembering correctly.ReplyDelete
It is very interesting how Hardy diligently described how they did their works/crafts. It makes us absorbed into their world.Delete