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A Pair of Blue Eyes

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3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  4,923 Ratings  ·  241 Reviews
Elfride Swancourt is the daughter of the Rector of Endelstow, a remote sea-swept parish in Corwall based on St Juliot, where Hardy began A Pair of Blue Eyes during the beginning of his courtship of his first wife, Emma. Blue-eyed and high-spirited, Elfride has little experience of the world beyond, and becomes entangled with two men: the boyish architect, Stephen Smith, an ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 374 pages
Published November 3rd 2005 by Oxford University Press (first published 1873)
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Daniel Villines It's a beautiful book about youth, love, and life. Far better than Tess...

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Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
This was a fast read, and I very much enjoyed it! If you are already a Hardy fan, I heartily recommend reading A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873); if you aren't, this just might make you one. A Pair of Blues Eyes was the third novel published by Hardy, and the first published under his own name. In his later years, Hardy created three categories in which he placed all of his fiction. The largest category, "Novels of Character and Environment," includes the well known core of his oeuvre also known as the ...more
Leslie
Oct 18, 2012 Leslie rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, england
Curse you Thomas Hardy! Curse you for tearing my heart out and making me cry like a dummie over fictional characters. I thought I was so smart and knew what was going to happen and you ripped the rug out from under me. You left me without my happy ending. Curse you! And the saddest thing is that I am no newcomer to Hardy. I've read your work before. As I cracked this one open I thought of my teenage favorite, Return of the Native. I should have thought of Tess! Yeah, you heard me. Poor TEss and ...more
Lada Fleur
Aug 12, 2014 Lada Fleur rated it really liked it
A romance about the countryside and its values, about the time and changing world, about adolecence and its expectations. A dream novel. A novel of an eighteen year old dream. Of impossibility to come to terms to life and what it offers. A dream shattered. I compare it to Zola's Reve, le reve de son heroine Angelique, dreaming away under the medieval cathedral'S shadow, embroidering her destiny in.
Elfride Swancourt was a girl whose emotions lay very near the surface. Their nature more precisely,
...more
Duane
Feb 21, 2014 Duane rated it really liked it
I love this Thomas Hardy novel almost as much as Tess of the D'Urbervilles. It is partly autobiographical, with the heroine Elfride based on his first wife Emma Gifford. It is a short, romantic novel with interesting characters and many twists and turns that are unexpected, especially the ending. Well written as are all of Hardy's novels.
Bruce
Apr 06, 2014 Bruce rated it really liked it
Before he turned to the exclusive writing of poetry late in his life, Thomas Hardy wrote a series of marvelous novels, some of which many of us were introduced to early in our lives. His novels were written during the Victorian period, a period in which his views were profoundly at odds with the progressive optimism so prevalent within the general public. Rather he focused primarily on rural life in the south of England (“Wessex”), emphasizing the implacability of fate, decline of rural life and ...more
Dolors
Mar 19, 2013 Dolors rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
This is a novel I would highly recommend to everybody, not only to Hardy's fans. The story is so nicely unfolded and detailed that you can almost feel the wind in that spellbinding cliff scene.
This is a simple story, don't expect great literary references or witty remarks. But it is told with so much gentleness and the characters are very well portrayed and developed.
Elfride, though, is not as the other Hardy's heroines, she is young, gullible and has grown up protected by her father. I though
...more
Sarah Anne
Oct 16, 2015 Sarah Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed every minute of this book, start to finish. That doesn't mean that I liked all of the characters all of the time or that it was a perfect book, it was merely a pleasurable read all the way through.

The main reason I wanted to read this particular book is that it's the origin of the term "cliffhanger." Apparently it was originally published in serial form and it does, indeed, leave a character clinging to the side of a cliff at one point. I can see where this was incredibly suspenseful i
...more
Laura
From BBC radio 4 Extra:
Thomas Hardy's partly autobiographical story about the love triangle between a young woman, Elfride Swancourt, and her two suitors from very different backgrounds


Jeremy Irons is splendid!!!
Katie Lumsden
Jul 06, 2016 Katie Lumsden rated it liked it
Perhaps 3.5. An interesting Hardy read - not my favourite but one that certainly has given me a lot to think about. In general I found the characters engaging and the plotting well done, with some stunning scenes, although the ending was a little disappointing.
Nathan
Jan 20, 2016 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my second Hardy novel. Both of them were a bit of a slow start, though this one hooked me much faster than The Return of the Native. I never thought I'd be the kind of guy who's a fan of 19th century British romances, but when they're this well-written, I can't help myself. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Elfride and the men in her life.

I have so much more to read, but I won't be surprised if I end up liking Thomas Hardy more the Collins, Dickens, any of the Brontes, or eve
...more
minnie
Mar 18, 2008 minnie rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
A Pair of Blue Eyes was Thomas Hardy’s third published novel, written in 1873 it was autobiographical, as the heroine Elfride Swancourt is based on Hardy’s first wife Emma Gifford. The novel is set in Cornwall where Hardy met Emma in 1870.Elfride Swancourt is a sheltered rectors daughter, with romantic notions(in the book she’s writing a romantic novel) when Stephen Smith a handsome young architect arrives to do some business with her father he falls in love with Elfride, and from this point on ...more
Trina
Feb 13, 2014 Trina rated it liked it
This book was strange for me to read. I didn't really like it, but at the same time, I wanted to know what was going to happen. I know it's very much a product of it's time, but still.

Elfride I found fickle, vapid, and honestly rather boring. Stephen was the sappy lover without much personality. Knight was condescending and cruel to her.

Basically, the story is thus:

Girl falls in love with dude #1, dad says no because he is below them. #1 goes to India to make his fortune so he can marry her.
...more
Gill
Jun 18, 2016 Gill rated it really liked it
At last I've read a book by Hardy that I enjoyed. It was much less gloomy than I remember his other books to be. (view spoiler) The description of the countryside etc was very evocative. I very much enjoyed the story, and the characterisation of the people in the book.
Bettie☯
Oct 20, 2010 Bettie☯ rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: BBC7 listeners
Durdles
Oct 14, 2010 Durdles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Every Thomas Hardy novel becomes my favourite while it is being read, but it is difficult to understand why this early gem is not even more lauded. Perhaps it just hasn't yet been made into a memorable TV series. A challenge for you Andrew Davies. My familiarity with the location - around Boscastle in Cornwall - which has been the scene of a more recent natural disaster, makes it an even more enjoyable read. The description of the natural landscape, viscissitudes of weather and local architectur ...more
Ali
Nov 02, 2011 Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this as part of the Thomas Hardy reading challenge. The second time I have read this novel, and yet I found I had remembered nothing of the story at all. I was puzzled by this as I found it hugely readable, and really very gripping in parts, which I must surely have done the first time I read it. The prose is beautiful, the descriptions of landscape, and buildings are lovely. It is a wonderfully accessible Hardy novel, and one I would recommend to people who don't like some of the better kn ...more
Roberta
Jun 26, 2014 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classici, uk, 2015
'Because I utter commonplace words, you must not suppose I think only commonplace thoughts. My poor stock of words are like a limited number of rough moulds I have to cast all my materials in, good and bad; and the novelty or delicacy of the substance is often lost in the coarse triteness of the form.'

Romanzo accessibilissimo di Hardy, che pur mantenendo i suoi temi fondamentali (la natura, il pessimismo, la vita rurale, le restrizioni sociali, il fatalismo) risulta più leggero di altri e per qu
...more
Sue
May 27, 2010 Sue rated it it was ok
Well, this is the last Thomas Hardy book I'm going to read. I've decided that he never will allow a character in his story to be happy, never find mercy or forgiveness for any perceived misdeed. And so it is in A Pair of Blue Eyes. In the cronological biography of Hardy I noted that he became an agnostic sometime in his twenties. Perhaps his dissatisfaction with God is the reason he can ill-afford any kindness to a sufferer. Of his books I've read Far from the Madding Crowd, A Pair of Blue Eyes, ...more
Mike
Jul 16, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
4 stars. What seems at first (and is really) a typical 19th century light romance, with all the attendant silliness, is actually a pretty astute study of innocent deceit, the pitfalls of over-idealization, the social constraints of being a woman, the sometimes minute differences between love and possession, and the destructive nature of jealousy, especially when it’s based on assumption and mere suspicion. None of this is particularly exceptional, but Hardy’s prose is—-I love it, and so althoug ...more
Sylvester
Dec 03, 2015 Sylvester rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-book, classic, 2016
I would like to excuse Hardy by saying this is his first novel, but I can't. He wrote 2 or 3 before, and good ones. (They say it is based on his courtship of his first wife - if so, I pity them both.) This is probably a perfectly fine book, but in comparison to his others, it falls far short. The idealization of love and the loved one was a big theme, and one I happen to dislike. So not a book for me.
Alyson
Jan 13, 2008 Alyson rated it liked it
Elfride is the heroine of this story, who at first appears a little dim-witted for me to indentify with. She seemed rather to be in love with love than the men who admire her. Expect the unexpected in this book. All of the twists and turns make you think you know the road to be traveled, but the surprises around every corner keep you coming back.
Steven
May 25, 2015 Steven rated it it was amazing
Tragic love triangle of a young woman torn between a younger and older man.
Nicki
Sep 03, 2010 Nicki rated it really liked it
A Pair of Blue Eyes tells the story of Elfride Swancourt, relating her struggles in love as she juggles two very contrasting love interests. The first is Stephen Smith, an architect who visits the remote village where Elfride lives to develop plans for a church restoration. After he’s won her heart, he reveals that he has a burdensome secret. The essence of his secret uncovers that he is socially inferior to Elfride, a fact that Elfride is not concerned with but her father cannot be convinced th ...more
JK
Aug 11, 2015 JK rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
I love Thomas Hardy with all my heart. Those who have never picked up one of his novels will view this one, before reading, as a tale of blossoming romance in an idyllic historical setting. Although it's, admittedly, partly this, having read many of Hardy's works before, I knew this would be a turbulent, devastating, and heartbreaking affair, with no doubt some sort of tragic ending. I was not wrong, and I love him all the more for it.

Elfride is the Endelstow vicar's daughter, and she's a feisty
...more
Jeana
Mar 26, 2009 Jeana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beloved-classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy
Feb 12, 2014 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-books-read
A Pair of Blue Eyes' claim to fame is that it is the book that brought us the term "cliffhanger". It was first published as a serialized novel, and one of the chapters ends with a man literally dangling off the edge of a remote cliff with no trees or rope in sight as a rescue aid and his only hope the brawn of his young woman companion.

The book features a love triangle between the wishy-washy Elfride, the douchebag Mr. Knight, and the doe-eyed Stephen. I'm not sure any reader would hope Elfride
...more
Jane
Sep 06, 2011 Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
One of Hardy's earlier works and, if you're familiar with his style and themes, you'll see that it definitely reads like it. This was written before he'd really hit his stride in terms of writing tragic romances which later culminated in one of his most famous novels and also the least well-received, "Jude the Obscure." There are little touches of tragedy and disappointments here and there, and, if you know how Hardy novels tend to end, skillfully done pieces of foreshadowing that, far from comi ...more
Ruthie Jones
Mar 31, 2011 Ruthie Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Hardy never disappoints! A Pair of Blue Eyes is his third novel, and it’s quite a lovely book. While the central scene shocked Victorian readers, that dramatic scene is very mild for today’s readers. That doesn’t mean this short book doesn’t have anything to offer. Hardy does a magnificent job twisting the plot and giving the reader a well-developed and unpredictable story. Some may call Elfride Swancourt a weak and watery girl, and she is! But she also has her moments of bravery, and she ...more
A.K. Klemm
Sep 23, 2015 A.K. Klemm rated it it was amazing
September 23, 2010 at 5:17pm ·
I Finally Finished A Pair of Blue Eyes
Thomas Hardy does it again, playing with all your emotions! This is yet another brilliant piece of work that takes you from loving to hating, adoring to judging, and then back to a calm "as it should be" state. Elfride Swancourt, Stephen Smith, and Mr. Knight are all so very real as each one demonstrates the ability for a human being to be wonderful and loving, hateful and horrible, and yet endearing all at once.

September 23, 2
...more
Anirudh
Apr 27, 2014 Anirudh rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics
A Pair of Blue Eyes is considered a classic by many and is one of Hardy's earliest novels. However I found it to be an over dramatised romance.

The story is that of Elfride and two men who seek her love. What would be a classic love triangle was also the downfall of the book as far as I was concerned. The book often had so many situations, dialogues and plots twists that made little sense that I felt this might be the YA counterpart of that generation. Elfride seems to have fallen in love simply
...more
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A Pair of Blue Eyes, 2 21 Oct 28, 2014 11:23AM  
Works of Thomas H...: * A Pair of Blue Eyes: General Discussion 34 37 Jul 24, 2014 09:55PM  
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  • Man and Wife
  • Romola
  • Aurora Floyd
  • Sylvia's Lovers
  • The Odd Women
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  • Thomas Hardy
  • The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
15905
Thomas Hardy, OM, was an English author of the naturalist movement, although in several poems he displays elements of the previous romantic and enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural. He regarded himself primarily as a poet and composed novels mainly for financial gain. The bulk of his work, set mainly in the semi-fictional land of Wessex, delineates cha ...more
More about Thomas Hardy...

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“There are disappointments which wring us, and there are those which inflict a wound whose mark we bear to our graves. Such are so keen that no future gratification of the same desire can ever obliterate them: they become registered as a permanent loss of happiness.” 62 likes
“You ride well, but you don't kiss nicely at all.” 33 likes
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