Surreysmum's Reviews > The Return of the Native

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
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May 25, 10

bookshelves: 1983, classics-british
Read in July, 1983

[These notes were made in 1983:]. Another Hardy I enjoyed wholeheartedly! (This could become a habit). Here the "nobleman beneath his station" is really out of place - a sort of alien creature, red from top to toe (a seller of red sheep-marking). But this time, if Hardy's protestations are to be believed, he wasn't really meant to get the girl, and Hardy's principal interest was clearly with his "upper" heroine, Eustacia Vye, her less-than-satisfactory lover, Wildeve, and her much-bedeviled husband, Clym Yeobright. (The lady the reddleman - Diggory Venn - eventually gets is Clym's cousin, Thomasin, who was originally engaged to Wildeve - got it?) Ennyhoo, Eustacia is another one of these morally ambiguous, slightly off-the-wall ladies whom Hardy paints so delightfully and successfully. Clym is a bit difficult - I think he was meant to carry a bit more heroic stature than he does. The final episode, however (or at least the major one) is as triumphantly climactic as the end of Mill on the Floss, and in fact reminds me of its wateriness. It seems unfair to kill off a couple of major characters in a deus ex machina situation, but somehow Hardy makes it acceptable by the emotional goings-on beforehand. And, as always, his scenery is important, convincing and spectacular. I do not think there could be a better evocation of brooding, ominous solitude than his description of Egdon Heath in the first chapter.
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