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The Trumpet-Major

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  2,194 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
Hardy distrusted the application of nineteenth-century empiricism to history because he felt it marginalized important human elements. In The Trumpet Major, the tale of a woman courted by three competing suitors during the Napoleonic wars, he explores the subversive effects of ordinary human desire and conflicting loyalties on systematized versions of history. This edition ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 22nd 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1880)
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After reading Giap: The Victor in Vietnam I felt the need for something to settle my stomach - and hark what lay to hand but an old edition of The Trumpet-Major, ripe for re-reading.

I read most of my Thomas Hardy in one go, one Easter in the mid 90s. I had got a boxed set from the Folio society of Hardy's novels for a fiver or some such in return for buying three full priced books a year from them (or something along those lines) and I read a hundred pages before breakfast, two hundred between
Alan Blood
Aug 20, 2011 Alan Blood rated it it was amazing
Those who criticise this remarkable novel should really go back to school to find out why they are missing the point. It has never achieved the accolades that so many of Hardy's other novels have. Although I more than adequately could, I will not repeat the several other complimentary reviews which are on this site.

Suffice to say that 'The Trumpet Major' occupies an almost unique slot in the Hardy 'repertoire' in that, unlike many of his works (such as 'Jude', Far From The Madding Crowd and 'Te
Katie Lumsden
Aug 15, 2016 Katie Lumsden rated it really liked it
Maybe even 4.5. I really enjoyed this Hardy - it has an interesting and clever mix of light and dark tone, and is set not in the Victorian times but during the Napoleon Wars, which adds an interesting historical dimension to the book as well. Hardy's writing is beautiful as ever.
Jul 25, 2011 Kezia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Anne Garland is quite possibly Hardy's least appealing heroine, which unfortunately makes this his least appealing novel. Status-conscious, shy, cold, boring beyond her years, with no apparent talents or hobbies, Anne finds herself the object of the affections of two working-class brothers as well as the heir of the kindly local squire.

Anne is unlike other 'Hardy Girls' and Hardy is unlike himself in this story. He more interested in the military maneuvers during the Napoleonic wars than he is
Feb 05, 2011 Sylvester rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-book, classic
Hardy has written enough books to keep me happy for years now - and there are still more for me to read, thank goodness! There is something about him - an earthiness, a darkness, that makes his stories (which are always about the complications of human relationships, and explorations of human character weighed against fate) very satisfying and full, though not always happy. This one might be lighter than most, but I very much enjoy how he refuses to simplify relationships. I could say more, but ...more
The Trumpet-Major is a novel by Thomas Hardy set during the time of the Napoleonic Wars and first published as a serial in Good Words from January to December 1880. It seems like a lot of books in the 1800's were published in serial form, I'm glad I wasn't there for it, I want to read my books all at one time. Hardy says of the novel in the introduction:

"The external incidents which direct its course are mostly an unexaggerated reproduction of the recollections of old persons well known to the
Courtney Stirrat
Oh Thomas,
Read June 2014

We were doing so well, you and I. I was thinking of reading your poetry and planning Far from the Madding Crowd as my next big read. And then came along The Trumpet-Major. It started well, although a bit mellow for you, but then turned into what felt like (but was not actually) a long, long, long read. Your love quandrangle between boring Anne and her three suitors is a bit, well, dull. The plot and choices are very Austen, but without her sparkle. Your characters are a
David Mcdowell
This is quite an uncomfortable read for a Hardy. I wasn't sure why I felt it to be so until I read the excellent Introduction to this edition. It was perceived by readers at the time as a charming pastoral romance and the style was partly a response to the badly-reviewed 'Return of the Native' (a book I like a lot).

There are 3 sides to the book all of which take prominence at various times and result in the disjointed or uneasy feel.

The part that most readers would focus on is the romance 'quadr
Oct 18, 2012 Clara rated it liked it
Sad - It started out great, but I was angry at the turn it took.

I would agree with the fact that Anne, the heroine of the book is the least likeable of Hardy's. I couldn't sympathize with her actions and her course left me angry and frustrated.

Because of this, I don't know that I would ever re-read this book.

However, The Trumpet Major has some of the most lively and interesting characters of Hardy's creation as well. I absolutely loved Uncle Benji who almost seemed to have stepped out of a Dic
Apr 17, 2009 Mlg rated it really liked it
Shelves: victorians
Another terrific glimpse into small town English life during the Napoleonic Wars. Anne Garland is living with her widowed mother in half of Miller Loveday's mill. She is courted by three men, one is the Squire's nephew, the other two are the Miller's sons, a trumpet major and a seaman.
I thought the character of Anne was unappealing, but the Trumpet Major who is the good man always in the background, is charming. I wish it had a happier ending!
Dec 25, 2016 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-books-read
I like that this was a book that Hardy actually researched for writing since it takes place during the Napoleonic Wars that he'd heard his elders talk about as a child. But, really, the story is really nothing all that great. The backdrop could have been more interesting and the storyline could have been more interesting. I really wasn't hoping anyone in particular would win the battle of the love triangle. In my quest to read everything Hardy has written, I could have skipped this one.
Vanessa Wester
Feb 19, 2016 Vanessa Wester rated it it was amazing
I am amazed this is the first Thomas Hardy book I have ever read, and can't believe it took me this long to read one by this fantastic author! My husband gave me the DVD of "Far from the Maddening Crowd" and I decided to read some of his other works, this being one of them.

The plot of "The Trumpet-Major" is fantastic, with so many twists along the way that I was shocked on the last page at the outcome!

To summarise, Anne is a woman sought out by three different men... two brothers and the detesta
Jul 29, 2011 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it for O level English Lit - ooooh, SO many years ago now. But it had exactly what I want from a Hardy novel. I've never bought into the "misery is good" atmosphere of Tess of the d'Urbervilles or Jude the Obscure. What I want from Hardy is fabulous descriptions of Wessex country life in the 1800s, great characterisation, one or two tangled love affairs and a sense of a world no longer here.

That is exactly what I got from this novel. The story is as good as
historical fic (believe this is the only foray into hist-fic that Mr Hardy made)

Unabridged; 10.7 hours; read by Simon Vance.

blurb - Anne Garland, who lives with her widowed mother in a mill owned by Miller Loveday, has three suitors: the local squire's nephew Festus and the miller's two sons, Robert and John. While Festus' aggressive pursuit deters the young woman from considering him as a husband, the indecisive Anne wavers between light-hearted Bob and gentle,
Gopal Vijayaraghavan
Jul 31, 2014 Gopal Vijayaraghavan rated it really liked it
The period was the closing years of the eighteenth Century . The place a small Wessex coastal village which is jolted rudely of its slumber by the arrival of the British Cavalry because Boney(Napolean) having conquered the Europe threatened the peace of England. Thomas Hardy weaves a tragic tale of Trumpet Major John Loveday “ a neglected heroic man, who, loving her(Anne Garland) to distraction, deliberately doomed himself to pensive shade to avoid even the appearance of standing in a brother’s ...more
Mar 09, 2012 Julia rated it it was ok
I stayed with it to the end, but The Trumpet-Major didn’t hold my attention very well. The various characters were each believable in their own right, but I didn’t like the heroine very much; she was wishy-washy, self-centered, and uninteresting. The one major character I did like did not receive due rewards for his good character. There just wasn’t much to the story other than wondering who the heroine would end up with. It was intriguing to get a glimpse into the life of the English in a time ...more
Jirô Mori
May 25, 2013 Jirô Mori rated it really liked it
Hardy as historian (w/ the prefatory note & footnotes) made for an interesting extra to the narrative, and I was lucky enough to be wandering/driving round some of the settings while reading it. Not sure what to make of Ms Garland and her eventual situation, however, nor of the author's attitude towards her. Still thinking about it -- but a typically rich and rewarding read. Plenty of lexical challenges, too, whether via dialect or era; even the OED was stumped occasionally.

(Didn't get to se
Sep 12, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Everybody loves Anne Garland, but no-one is good enough for Anne. Certainly not John Loveday, the Trumpet Major. So Anne leads him and his brother Bob and nasty piece of work Festus Derriman a merry dance, and finally has a change of heart.

Not my favourite Hardy, who usually entertains me with good heroines. The background to the story was good however, set against the fear in the early 1800s that Napoleon was preparing to invade England's south coast.
Aug 02, 2011 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Hardy - wonderful language, constantly twisting plot, deep characters all wrapped in a wonderfully painted landscape. I love reading Hardy, with the exception of Tess (which just made me want to slap all the main characters) - this is much better.
Roni Roshni
Mar 10, 2016 Roni Roshni rated it really liked it
One of the easiest books of Hardy..
Plot Note:
The book takes place in the costal town of Budmouth (Weymouth), in the years 1804-1808, during the Napoleonic Wars. It is centered around the heroin Anne Garland who is sought after by three suitors, amidst a period where the local towns and British forces are preparing for the imminent invading force of Napoleon's army. Anne Garland, the only daughter of an impoverished widow, who's father was a respected local artist but his death led to a downturn in circumstances. Now they live in
Mar 19, 2015 Robin rated it it was amazing
Thomas Hardy was a master of crafting tragedies that deliver powerful feelings of gloom, doom, despair and thoughts of self-harm, wrapped in haunting language and sun-dappled, open-aired imagery. So just imagine what he's like when he switches register from tragedy to romantic comedy. Now that haunting language and open-aired imagery are turned to the purpose of a light, humorous tale of love in the semi-fictitious Wessex countryside. It oozes charm; it makes you laugh and chuckle archly; and wi ...more
Drew Graham
Oct 14, 2011 Drew Graham rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: me
(Closer to 3.5, but I had to round down this time.)

The residents of Overcombe are thrilled when a troop of soldiers sets up camp on the outskirts of their village. Among the especially excited are a local miller who lives nearby, as well as his tenants, the widow Mrs. Garland and her daughter Anne. The miller's son, John Loveday, serves as able and celebrated trumpet-major of the dragoon, and his contentment at returning home for a time increases when he is reintroduced to young Miss Garland, no
Jun 28, 2012 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the latest read for my online Hardy reading group – we are reading one book every two months chronologically. I’m a big Hardy fan – and I am so enjoying rediscovering the works I first fell in love with when I was between about eighteen and twenty. I do find though, that my memory of many of the actual plots has suffered greatly over the intervening years – that was certainly the case with The Trumpet Major. My one recollection was of military men in uniform, at the time of the Napoleon ...more
Todd Stockslager
May 31, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Review title: When will a hero arise?
Combining the powerful writing style of a great author with the explosive ingredients of the French Revolution (Dickens's Two Cities) and its Napoleonic aftermath (Hardy's Major) is apparently a recipe for classic fiction. The key is creating great characters and putting them in recognizable historical settings. The history isn't the focus but the background against which heroes arise.

Add to this heady mix the fictional Wessex area of southern coastal England
Oct 04, 2009 Maria rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
Hardy's only historical novel takes place in my favorite period of history, the Napoleonic Wars. His descriptions of calvary regiment bivouac procedures, drills, and the false alarm of a French invasion of the coast are superbly written and well worth the read. The title, on the other hand, is misleading, unless Hardy has an obsession with heroes being worthy of the name only by dying. The book could more readily be named "The First Lieutenant" or perhaps even better, "How Stupid Can a Girl Get? ...more
Anthony Bellaleigh
Sep 11, 2011 Anthony Bellaleigh rated it really liked it
I read one of the free Kindle ebook conversions. ASIN: B004UJI9NW

The conversion seemed fine to me. There were no new pages between chapters but it made no difference to my reading experience and I didn't notice any significant typos.

The story is based in a tiny village in Hardy's imaginary county of Wessex on the South coast of England. It centres around three men, all from the village, returning home to discover Anne - recently blossomed into womanhood and without a suitor. Clearly (and especia
Dec 17, 2010 Durdles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Having just read "A pair of Blue Eyes" I was hungry for a new Thomas Hardy novel. He doesn't write many these days; his fit of pique over the bad reaction to "Jude" has gone on long enough. This novel is less substantial and quite amusing. Having read it I realise that nothing actually happens! But the description of nothing actually happening is lovely.
Incidently, the French, (led by an Irish American called Tate but not including Bony) did invade Britain at this time - further round the coast
Hope N
I thoroughly enjoyed this lesser-known Hardy novel set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. The light-hearted and comedic tone of the novel, which generally has the reader laughing fondly at the fears and clumsy precautions of the peasants, nevertheless allows for glimpses into the harsher realities. Most of the novel focuses on the courtship of the heroine Anne by Bob the fickle sailor, John the thoughtful trumpet-major, and Festus, the proud yeoman (whose slapstick courting almost make ...more
Mar 21, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Thomas Hardy and complicated romances
I nearly put this book down for good around page 50 because it gets off to a slow start, but in the end, I'm so glad I finished it. Like other reviewers have said, this novel is a bit different for Hardy. It is a comic-romantic tale set against the historical reality of the Napoleonic wars. I would call it a book about a love triangle, but it's more like a love hexagon. There are lots of funny moments, which struck me as odd compared to Hardy's other novels, and very rarely did I sympathize with ...more
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Works of Thomas H...: The Trumpet-Major 10 13 Dec 13, 2016 06:51PM  
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  • Love Among the Haystacks
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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
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