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A Pair of Blue Eyes
 
by
Thomas Hardy
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A Pair of Blue Eyes

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  3,069 ratings  ·  148 reviews
Elfride is the daughter of the Rector of Endelstow, a remote sea-swept parish in Cornwall based on St. Juliot, where Thomas Hardy began the book during the first days 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, and the older...more
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Published by Blue Unicorn Editions (first published 1873)
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Christopher H.
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
Bruce
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
Leslie
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
minnie
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
Mike
4 ½ 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 althou...more
Trina
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
Ghadeer
A Pair of Blue Eyes

I took reading this novel as a challenge because this is my first time to read such a long novel .Also, it consists of (344) pages, the English level of it is somehow difficult and the most important point I DON’T LIKE READING ROMANTIC STORIES AT ALL! >_<”

But I said to myself that I will read it and I will defeat my fears.
Surprisingly, It was an extremely enjoyable book and I don’t mind rereading it whenever I have free time.
I read it from cover to cover ^_^ and didn’t m...more
Ali
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
Alyson
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.
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!!!
Nicki
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
Jeana
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jane
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
Dolors
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
Durdles
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
Dave
This was OK. Better than Under the Greenwood Tree--and limited to only a few "humorous" chapters featuring rustics (gawd). Mostly it's just not consistent: parts are boring (the opening chapters are very slow), there are far too many literary allusions clogging up the works (especially early on), and the ending is stupid. But isolated scenes (the whole cliff scene, Knight trying to buy the earrings, Knight seeing Elfride looking in the mirror) are brilliant, and the awkward lovers' debates are c...more
Sue
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
Ria
A wonderful yet melancholic tale of the irrepressible and flighty Elfride Swancourt and her romantic entanglements.
Living as she does in the country Eflride is not very worldy wise and when a youthful architect from London comes to stay at her father's rectory while down in the country on a job for his firm Elfride cannot help but fall in love with him.
But alas the attachment is more a novelty than real love and when things progress so far and her father finds out about the pair's feelings for e...more
ShaLisa
....and nobody lives happily ever after. Always, Hardy is able to pull at the heart strings as he creates passions and hopes and stories with secrets. Although there was potential for a happy ending - indeed, true love existed - I knew Hardy well enough to not expect a happy unfolding. And I was right to be leery. Elfride and her blue eyes captured the hearts well enough and her honesty was also her dishonesty. As in the book Tess of the Duberville, I found myself saying to myself, "Tell him! Te...more
Stefania
Liked the book but didn't like the main character..Elfride..:|
Julian Meynell
While I was reading this book, I initially wondered about why it was considered one of Hardy's lesser novels. It is not quite so dark and brooding as most of his works, but it has exceptionally good courtship scenes. The central heroine of the novel is marvellously done and the writing and landscape as always is excellent.

The book is about a kind of love triangle. Elfride is torn between two loves. The novel looks at the exploitation of women, class as it affects love, female inconstancy and abo...more
Amy
To me, felt like reading the equivalent of a modern day romance fiction except with olden day twists and ending. How tragic! But it had all the awkwardness of realistic predicaments like the awkwardness of not knowing how to kiss, how to tell a lover about your previous lover, your previous engagements with your lover, losing interest in one and growing an even stronger love for another, having those two lovers meet, etc etc. I laughed in those parts- I can relate. It was an easy read despite th...more
Sorcha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kari
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rnlockett
Once finished, I regarded this book as an English (and therefore more prudish) version of Madame Bovary. Elfride might be a tragic heroine. I should give that thesis a little more thought before I just toss it out there, but I didn't really think the book worth that much more thought.

Hardy used a lot of foreshadowing. Most of it was effective, but he went overboard when he took advantage of premonitions and dreams - very weak literary devices. I was surprised to read one review of the book which...more
Elise
Jan 22, 2011 Elise rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of 19th century literature (but avoid if you have an aversion to unhappy endings).
My first Hardy novel. . . my first venture into Wessex. I don't think it will be my last.

I've just this minute finished reading it, so excuse my rambling, fragmented "review".

-Beautifully written, and quite a fast, easy read for a 19th century novel, though there were a couple of slower points. However, in each instance the narrative quickly regained pace.

-Relatively brief yet very evocative descriptions of nature.

-VERY well-drawn characters, that truly come to life in the reader's imagination....more
Melody
For whatever reason, my library did not have this book. I even tried to request it, to no avail. I ended up getting a free ebook to read on my iPod. Sometimes it seemed a little choppy in the narrative. It made me wonder if the free ebook wasn't a very good copy of it.

I must admit that Elfride annoyed me a little. For one thing, it annoyed me that she wouldn't tell Knight her whole history to begin with. I'm not a secretive person, especially not with my husband, or in her case fiancé. Not the...more
Alicia
Fun trivia I found in Goodreads' Thomas Hardy bio: "The term cliffhanger is considered to have originated with Thomas Hardy's serial novel A Pair of Blue Eyes in 1873. In the previously mentioned novel Hardy chose to leave one of his protagonists, Knight, literally hanging off a cliff staring into the stony eyes of a trilobite embedded in the rock that has been dead for millions of years. This became the archetypal — and literal — cliff-hanger of Victorian prose."
________________________________...more
Drew Graham
The Year of Hardy continues with Thomas Hardy's third published novel. Elfride Swancourt is the young and winsome daughter of the vicar of Endelstow. Stephen Smith, a young architect from London, arrives on an errand to examine the deteriorating tower in the church, and his attention is soon attracted by the daughter of his host. Young Elfride returns the sentiments, but there may be certain societal obstacles to their union. When she and Stephen nearly go to extremes to make their romantic drea...more
Aaron
I will walk through how I felt while reading this book: I started with excitement to be reading a Hardy book, then disappointment at my lack of enjoying it, then boredom, then I hit the halfway point, I began to care about the characters, next I became distraught over what was happening, then moved by Hardy's profound statements, then perfectly contented with another classic depressing Hardy ending. If it did not come across clearly, what I meant by all that is the book started not so good but b...more
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Works of Thomas H...: * A Pair of Blue Eyes: General Discussion 26 10 3 hours, 22 min ago  
A Pair of Blue Eyes, 1 10 May 10, 2013 02:04AM  
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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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“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.” 54 likes
“You ride well, but you don't kiss nicely at all.” 22 likes
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