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The Woodlanders

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  9,152 ratings  ·  257 reviews
In this classically simple tale of the disastrous impact of outside life on a secluded community in Dorset, now in a new edition, Hardy narrates the rivalry for the hand of Grace Melbury between a simple and loyal woodlander and an exotic and sophisticated outsider. Betrayal, adultery, disillusion, and moral compromise are all worked out in a setting evoked as both beautif ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 464 pages
Published August 1st 1998 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1887)
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Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeDracula by Bram StokerGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens
Victorian novels
50th out of 180 books — 326 voters
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270th out of 725 books — 4,228 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cheryl Kennedy
Little if anything is left behind in Hardy's masterwork of love and its perils of participation. Read along and recognize your experience with the most sought after and feared of all emotions...romantic love.

Choosing the person to marry in Hardy's time was an act of submission to the dominent person in your life, always someone who claimed the wisdom of life experience, who was usually the father. From the outset, observation of a potential manchild cemented the decision for a life partner. The
Christopher H.
Update--May 7, 2011: I took Hardy's The Woodlanders with me on a recent week-long camping trip to Yosemite National Park, and re-read it while there. It was truly wonderful to sit in some of the most idyllic natural locations in all of the world and read this most amazing novel. If anything, I got even more from the novel this second time through, and highly recommend The Woodlanders to fans of the fiction and poetry of Thomas Hardy.


I am continuing on with my summer of reading the written wor
Apparently, this is Thomas Hardy's favorite of all the novels he wrote.

My order of Thomas Hardy favorites is:

MOST FAVORITE: Far From the Madding Crowd
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Return of the Native
The Woodlanders
Under the Greenwood Tree
Two in a Tower
A Pair of Blue Eyes
Mayor of Casterbridge
The Well-Beloved
LEAST FAVORITE: Jude the Obscure (way too tragic for me)

My 18-year-old son also loves Tess of the D'Urbervilles and took it to BYU with him in his suitcase, one of 3 novels he took with him to co
César Lasso
¡Joder! Pero qué bueno es él. ¡Qué bueno es este difunto escritor de otros tiempos! Su descripción de la naturaleza es minuciosa y desapasionada, acompañando los matices de la putrefacción de las hojas caídas durante el otoño y el invierno, y el despertar de la vida en la primavera. Una primavera con pájaros, pero esencialmente vegetal. Y los hombres y mujeres que viven en ella.

Al acabar este libro, me doy cuenta de todo lo que me falta por saber de literatura británica. Quítame la novela gótica
You can’t be lily-livered and read Thomas Hardy. You have to have grit. This is equally true of The Woodlanders, written by Hardy in 1887 as one in the series of his Wessex novels. The Woodlanders is a “Gatsby-esk” look at class distinctions; how the privileged class invariably and uncaringly run rough shod over the lower and middle class – in this case in mid-19th Century England. Fitzgerald’s book followed some 38 years later and dealt with the same issue on American soil.

Giles Winterborne (t
The Woodlanders is the latest read in my on-going Hardy challenge. Several friends and I have been reading (or re-reading in my case) all of Hardy’s fiction in chronological order. I’m not sure why this is only the second time I’ve read The Woodlanders, as I remember been mesmerised by it when I was eighteen. I can remember clearly where I was when I read it – and despite always meaning to, I never managed to get around to re-reading it in the intervening years. I am so glad I left it until now, ...more
Every bit as lovely as I remembered it. My view of this as my favourite Hardy is only confirmed, even if my recent splurge of rapid reading slowed down dramatically as I was reading it. The first two thirds took a couple of days, the remainder has been spun over two weeks simply because of time pressures and because this is a book that demands not to be read superficially in small doses, but needs to wait for time to be allocated to it.

It's less melodramatic than some of Hardy's better-known no
Aug 24, 2007 Paula rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: british lit fans
So I read this book because I love Hardy's work--Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, and Far from the Madding Crowd. The Woodlanders isn't as famous as these three.

It's interesting to read Hardy and D.H. Lawrence together. Both focus on themes of marital/sexual alienation, discovery, and rebellion, and have great sympathy for women. Both were also poets, and Hardy went so far as to shun novel-writing for poetry later in his life, believing many of his novels, because they were serializ
Another magnificent masterpiece by Thomas Hardy.

This is the story of 4 people who lived in Blackmoor Vale.

Grace Melbury falls in love with Giles Winterborne. However, his father George Melbury found that his daughter is more appropriate to be engaged instead to Edred Fitzpiers, a handsome and young doctor in Little Hintock. In the meantime, Edred falls in love with Felice Charmond. And then, their lives become inextricably intertwined.

The movie based on this classic book The Woodlanders (1997) d
General Editor's Preface
Chronology: Hardy's Life and Works
Map: The Wessex of the Novels
Bibliographical Note
Further Reading
A Note on the History of the Text

--The Woodlanders

Appendix I: 1895 Preface; 1912 Postscript
Appendix II: The Location of 'The Woodlanders'
Appendix III: The Law, Marriage and Divorce in 'The Woodlanders'
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Throughout this novel I was taken by the way Hardy visualises scenes either through subjective viewpoints, showing us what specific characters see, or choose to see, or from the eye of the omniscient observer, the author. Some of my favorite novelists - Graham Greene is another example - excel in the art of sequencing, chosing the most telling scene to establish theme, character and setting and advance plot. Hardy displays a similar knack here, with each episode bearing its own strength and unit ...more
Jo, que historia tan triste... Se nota que Hardy era un ilustrado, porque su obra rezuma de inteligencia, buen hacer y muchas alusiones a la literatura y la religión.
Joseph Rice
If it's a Thomas Hardy novel, it's a tragedy. *sad face*

I was first exposed to Hardy in high school, being assigned Jude the Obscure for AP English. Entering the Navy, I was determined to continue to read, read, read, both -brow high and low, and eventually made my way through Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge and Far from the Madding Crowd. The Woodlanders was never on my radar, though, and it wasn't until I went on a "free for Kindle" purchasing binge,
This was Thomas Hardy's favorite of all his novels. This wasn't my favorite storyline/ending, but I loved the writing and descriptions of nature. I loved getting lost in this book and feeling like I was there among the apple trees in the little English village with the woodlanders. This book teaches a valuable lesson that would benefit teenagers today: The heroine decides not to marry the hard-working, devoted boy-next-door. Instead, she marries a handsome doctor with higher social status. She s ...more
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina Dudley
Another beautiful Hardy read, and--not to give any spoilers--a comparative frolic. Not as skippy-happy (for Hardy) as Far from the Madding Crowd, to be sure, but not such a downer as Jude the Obscure.

Lovely Grace Melbury is educated above her humble family's station in the woodlands of Little Hintock, making her too good in her father's opinion (and occasionally her own) for her childhood friend and sweetheart Giles Winterborne. Grace then comes to the attention of the fascinating dilettantish d
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Louise Beilby
Familiar ground for any fan of Hardy - people marrying above their station, extra-marital affairs, thwarted ambition, dishonest middle-class types oppressing honest working-class types, people leading frustrated and miserable lives... and, for a bit of variety, man-traps.

I am not entirely sure why I love Hardy so much considering how depressing many of his books are. Perhaps it's because his prose and dialogue comes across as so much more "modern" than that of someone like, say, Dickens, or Wilk
No me ha gustado tanto como Lejos del mundanal ruido pero con eso no quiero decir que Los habitantes del bosque sea peor libro, en un sentido podría incluso decirse que es mejor ya que contiene mucha más crítica social. Sin embargo los personajes no me han caído tan bien, el conformismo de la protagonista me ha exasperado un poco (aunque lo cierto es que así era la situación de la mujer en aquella época) y en algunas partes se me ha hecho un poco lento. A pesar de todo creo que es un muy buen li ...more
Deep in the woods, in a dying village cut off from civilization... Hardy at the helm... I thought this was going to be relentlessly dark, and it does have people trapped in loveless marriages (turns out 19th Century divorce laws were like, if the woman cheats, the man can dump her, but if the man cheats, then she can't divorce him unless she can prove cruelty or abandonment.) Also, what would a Victorian novel be without a good guy suffering a chronic respiratory disease? Yet, I thought this was ...more
A few years back I had my husband sit down and watch "The Mayor of Casterbridge" DVD with me. At the end he turned to me and said, "What? It can't end like that!" I smiled and said, "It's Thomas Hardy."

When you read a Hardy book, you must brace yourself for the tragedy. (The added benefit of this is that when you read one that does have a happy ending, it will come as a pleasant surprise!) Even though I'd never read this book before, and I didn't know what exactly was about to happen, throughou
Thought I'd try out Mr. Hardy again, it's been a while. At times, he is delightful. At times he is melodramatic and morose. Sometimes he's in-between. I love him delightful, I can appreciate him in the middle, I just nearly gag when he's wallowing in morbidity . Sadly, this book, at least the 36% I read of it, anyway, fits in the latter category. I knew that could be the case and went into this book with eyes wide open. I'm not averse to the characters or story so far, as much as apathetic. But, ...more
Hardy often reduces me to tears either by virtue of how lovingly he describes his chosen settings or through allowing some awful fate befall his most beloved protagonists. The Woodlanders was no exception; although,it didn't hit me as hard as Jude the Obscure did. I'll be honest: the more tragic, the better. I adore being emotionally battered by Hardy. No one is left fulfilled by the story, least of all its most pitiful character, Marty South, whom we encounter in the first pages of the novel.

I have a thing for Thomas Hardy. Maybe my husband should be worried.
Normally mothers have to take the blame for everything, but this novel is about a father and his love for his daughter. It compels him to give her a good education at a finishing school: when the girl returns to her hometown there is nowhere for her to show her accomplishments or use her skills. It also makes her grow apart from her childhood sweetheart, the man her dad would like her to marry. This is the paradox at the heart o
Scholars might not put The Woodlanders up as one of Hardy's masterpieces, but by the author's own admission, it was his favorite. Little Hintock is the tiniest of communities surrounded by woodlands. All but two of the characters were born and raised living, breathing, working, and making a living off the woods and the apple trees. Grace Melbury has this in her blood, but her father wants more for her and so has sent her off to become an educated lady. Upon her return, these two conflicting ways ...more
Adored this. Once again, Hardy creates a setting so vivid that it seems to be a character in its own rights. I wish all those fangirls who write LOTR stories about elves in the woods would study this novel to get an idea of how to describe a woodland setting. And the people are so real and so relateable. Poor Giles! I would have loved to see more of Marty and I was glad the story came back to her in the end.
Marie Saville
¡Que difícil me es calificar este libro! (3 estrellas, 4…)
La escritura es preciosa, la historia triste pero emocionante; imposible no implicarse con los acontecimientos, y aún así…me ha faltado "algo". Tengo que reposar la lectura y aclararme las ideas. Hardy es demasiado para el cuerpo :)
I have read this book twice. It is excellent. Very atmospheric. It is set in Little Hintock, a remote wooded village in Blackmoor Vale in his fiction Wessex, in the early part of the second half of the 19th century. It is a good example of Hardy's feeling that "happiness is but a mere episode in the general drama of pain".

I realized the other day, that there is an element of its plot that is similar to that of Rapunzel (where Dame Gothel cut short Rapunzel's braided hair and cast her out into th
Lee Anne
Great Hardy book, as always. This one has the usual--pastoral setting, wealth versus poverty, class status, heavy foreshadowing. I hadn't read any Thomas Hardy in a while (I think I re-read The Mayor of Casterbridge last winter, maybe), and it's always a pleasure to come back to him.

Warning: as with most Penguin classics, you don't want to read the introduction first, since it contains major plot spoilers. Annoying! Some of us are reading for pleasure, not study--save it for an afterword! This
Diana Long
Undoubtedly Thomas Hardy is the social conscience of the time he lived and wrote of. This is my 5th read of his this year and he does not disappoint. Every novel takes unexpected twists and turns and about the only thing you can be sure of, for some of the characters the outcome is not going to be a fairy tale ending. In this one his protagonist is a young maid who was born socially low and her parent has her educated above her class. What developes is a tangled web, schemes, sordid affairs, all ...more
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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 facination 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 char ...more
More about Thomas Hardy...
Tess of the D'Urbervilles Far from the Madding Crowd  Jude the Obscure The Mayor of Casterbridge The Return of the Native

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“He Looked and smelt like Autumn's very brother, his face being sunburnt to wheat-colour, his eyes blue as corn-flowers, his sleeves and leggings dyed with fruit-stains, his hands clammy with the sweet juice of apples, his hat sprinkled with pips, and everywhere about him the sweet atmosphere of cider which at its first return each season has such an indescribable fascination for those who have been born and bred among the orchards.” 11 likes
“...Nameless, unknown to me as you were, I couldn't forget your voice!'
'For how long?'
'O - ever so long. Days and days.'
'Days and days! Only days and days? O, the heart of a man! Days and days!'
'But, my dear madam, I had not known you more than a day or two. It was not a full-blown love - it was the merest bud - red, fresh, vivid, but small. It was a colossal passion in embryo. It never returned.”
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