Gone to Earth
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Gone to Earth

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  180 ratings  ·  27 reviews
The daughter of a Welsh gypsy and a crazy bee-keeper, Hazel Woodus is happiest living in her forest cottage in the remote Shropshire hills, at one with the winds and seasons, protector and friend of the wild animals she loves. But Hazel's beauty and innocence prove irresistible to the men in her orbit. Both Jack Reddin, the local squire and Edward Marston, the gentle minis...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 1982 by Dial Press (first published 1917)
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Not quite as magical and poetical a book as "Precious Bane" but still special and confirming Mary Webb as one of my newly discovered favourite authors. The story is very much a parallel to "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" - the innocent gypsy girl, Hazel, torn between the good and honourable parson who she marries and the rough, rugged squire, who is destined to bring her to ruin. However, reading Tess, it is difficult to get into the mindset of the characters and not to look at the story from a mode...more
Helen Kitson
Mary Webb is the unfashionable author of rural novels of the kind parodied so sharply and hilariously by Stella Gibbons in Cold Comfort Farm. If you can get past the unintentionally amusing dialogue, however, there is more to this novel than romantic melodrama and, while she's hardly the equal of Thomas Hardy, she deals movingly and powerfully with her themes.

The central character, Hazel Woodus, is an eighteen-year-old girl living in a hovel with her unloving father. They live in that remote, aw...more
This was an interesting book, and more compelling than I'd expected it to be.

It's very didactic and philosophical, but the gist of the plot (in modern terms)is of a young and naive woman torn between the desires of a Nice Guy (tm) and a Bad Boy.

It is very clear that neither of them are more concerned about her than of their ideas about her- this is explicitly stated, many times, in the text. She has her passion- for the natural world- and neither of her suitors pay any attention to that.

I will s...more
This was a poetically lyrical and intense novel.

In many ways the main characters are more like archetypes than the sort of individuals we would ever encounter in the everyday world. Hazel the heroine is a child of Nature - though not Nature in its less gentle aspect. Reddin the local squire who pursues her is all aggression and passion. Edward who marries Hazel but cannot keep Reddin away represents a spirituality that is too far removed from the natural world.

I particularly enjoyed the way the...more
This book was just a little odd. I must admit I was hoping to like it more than I did. It started almost like a fantasy novel with the wild half gypsey girl living in the woods with her father the musician. The story was basically about two men that wanted her and how she didn't want either but still had to choose between them.

I think the biggest problem I had with the book was that most of the dialogue was written in dialect. It was supposed to sound Welsh but it didn't sound at all Welsh when...more
Webb, Mary. GONE TO EARTH. (1917). ***. Obviously, this is an earlier novel from Ms. Webb, but one which does not exhibit the same mastery of prose as “Precious Bane.” This is a romance novel – again featuring an independent woman with highly-honed sensitivities for the environment around her. It is set at the beginning of the 19th century against the background of the Welsh marches, a haunted country, like all border regions. “This is the story of Hazel Woodus, offspring of the mysterious lands...more
1.5* I was looking for "Precious Bane" but came across this instead and thought I'd try it. I liked it a lot for about 3 or 4 chapters, taken in by the charm of the coffin-carving father and his daughter Hazel with her pet vixen and the nature description which was good - and then, well, I thought to myself - this is weird, what's happening, is this girl a wild thing or an idiot? And what's this with the obsession with sex? And then I looked into it a bit more and discovered to my chagrin and m...more
D.M. Dutcher (Sword Cross Rocket)
A friend listed this as a favorite, and I decided to read it. I think he and I though get different things out of it, as I wasn't that fond of the book.

Hazel is a girl-child who is in love with nature. She wanders all around the woods with animals in tow, and loves to sing and dance. She possesses an elvish vitality to her that attracts the eye of two men: Edward, the local pastor who idealizes her spiritually, and Reddin, who lust for her turns to passion. It's not going to end well.

While I enj...more
Written in 1917 and using local dialect Mary Webb writes over dramatically about a nature loving gypsy girl, her pet fox and her love affairs. Terribly old-fashioned now, difficult at times to understand some of the dialect and filled with almost cartoon like characterisations - however put it in time and place when melodramatic novels were common; then in all probability it would seem dreadfully risqué.
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I have a rule. Any book my Grandma gives me to read I read. She thought I'd like this book given the parallels between Hazel and myself. I could identify a few aspects of myself in her namely her connection with nature, love of animals and her gypsy heritage but that's where it stopped. The book was written pleasantly enough but the characters were predictable as was the outcome of the story. Hazel's childishness, naivety and inability to see the natural world as it really is were rather infuria...more
Wow. Sorry Mary Webb, this book was not my fav. All told, Victorian-era tales about adultery and illegitimate pregnancies rarely turn out well, so I sort of had a feeling things were going to end badly when Edward took Hazel back for the SECOND time even though she was pregnant with Reddin's baby. But wow, I did not see that end coming. All in all, it was a bit slow-moving, but it did provide some welcome entertainment as I processed application files at work for hours at a time.
I love some of the purple passages in this book; and I found it interesting both for its story, which was admittedly very melodramatic, and its sociological context. Creating a heroine of the mundane world who wanted what SHE wanted rather than the love of a good (or bad) man was a bold stroke in 1917. I loved Precious Bane by this author wholeheartedly, but this one rather less. Still, a good read.
Jane Greensmith
This is the book that Stella Gibbons parodied in her hilarious Cold Comfort Farm, and it does make an easy target. The prose is purple, the story implausible, and the heroine imbecilic and the heroes moronic. It's interesting to read against a backdrop of Hardy and D.H. Lawrence but very weak and juvenile on its own. I'll have to reread Mary Webb's Precious Bane and see whether I still like it.
The author really waxes lyrical with her descriptions of nature, the characters and surroundings, but I felt there was too much padding and not enough substance to the story. The main character was fickle...and very naive for one supposedly so in touch with nature. The author certainly suffers from sesquipedalian loquaciousness, but I found it came over as pretentious at times.
I so loved this novel and "sipped" it slowly to
savor it. It is so lovely and lyrical and unusual.
If you have a great feeling for the natural world,
this book is highly recommended for you.
Jayne Charles
This was like Thomas Hardy mixed up with Jane Austen with a smattering of DH Lawrence and an extra helping of melodrama at the end. It was a reasonable story, but it helps if you like lots of descriptions of nature and fey characters. An understanding of Potteries dialect would help too.
Charisa Flaherty
This book was difficult for me to read. The author would spend three pages describing some scene and I would space off by the middle of the first page and had to go back to re-read what i missed. Although someitmes I just skipped it. I have no need to read anything else by Mary Webb.
I have mixed feels about this book. It made me really uncomfortable to read. It's a little rape-y and I think that was the point? I'm not sure. I'm going to have to think about it some more. I'm kinda glad that it's done. I don't think I'll be rereading it any time soon.
This book was hard for me to rate, part of me wanted to give it 4 stars but I held back because I found myself wanting it to be over just to see how things turned out, not because I was totally enjoying it. I like Precious Bane by this author way more.
I enjoyed this book, especially for the descriptions of the natural world and the language used. I did not really care much about the plot, but it kept me reading in combination with the lovely words and imagery.
Nature mysticism forms the background for a triangle of timid love, blind passion, and the innocent naive caught between them.

My word this woman loves a metaphor... Some are beautiful in their imagery, others... well... less so.
A stunningly beautiful read..which came to an abrupt & tumultuous end..poor Hazel.
Mike Finn
Ultimately disappointing trite nonsense... but somehow I enjoyed most of it!
Carol Allen
Deeply romantic - in the Wadsworthian sense of the term.
Hearth-breakingly, heart-achingly beautiful.
Susan Martin
Mary Webb is a genius storyteller. Enough said
Mary Webb's books take me away.
Yunaine marked it as to-read
Jul 13, 2014
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Mary Webb (1881-1927) was an English romantic novelist of the early 20th century, whose novels were set chiefly in the Shropshire countryside and among Shropshire characters and people which she knew and loved well. Although she was acclaimed by John Buchan and by Rebecca West, who hailed her as a genius, and won the Prix Femina of La Vie Heureuse for Precious Bane (1924), she won little respect f...more
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“[...]we are all as full of echoes as a rocky wood--echoes of the past, reflex echoes of the future, and echoes of the soil (these last reverberating through our filmiest dreams, like the sound of thunder in a blossoming orchard).” 2 likes
“You wasn't made like watch-dogs and house-cats and cows. You was made a fox, and you be a fox, and its queer-like to me, Foxy, as folk canna see that. They expect you to be what you wanna made to be. You'm made to be a fox; and when you'm busy being a fox they say you'm a sinner!” 2 likes
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