Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Woodlanders” as Want to Read:
The Woodlanders
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book

The Woodlanders

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  14,286 ratings  ·  575 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, 420 pages
Published February 5th 1998 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1887)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Woodlanders, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ivy-Mabel Fling Goodness me! Clean? Do you get anything much that is really shocking among the classics of the 19th century?!!!

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,286 ratings  ·  575 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Woodlanders
Henry Avila
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When reading a book The Woodlanders from a superb writer like Mr.Thomas Hardy not the first one mind you... a half dozen novels precisely , anticipating the outcome before beginning is easily ascertained, Victorian authors had an unpleasant habit of no happy endings and this particular scribbler not a accurate term, he was magnificent, however the belief that life terminates badly permeates his books and accepted as a truism in his own...........Deep in an isolated pocket in the woods of souther ...more
Manuel Antão
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2000
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The De-fanging of Menfolk: "The Woodlanders" by Thomas Hardy

Another Hardy character to rival Sue Bridehead in emotional complexity is, I feel, Grace Melbury in The Woodlanders. Grace is the young country girl sent away by her vain and ambitious father to be educated and refined and when she returns we see how the natural order of a small rural community is irrevocably turned upside down as a result. Hardy explores the impact of educati
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
[4+] Like other Hardy novels, the relationships in The Woodlanders seem doomed. Yet this novel is also laugh-out-loud funny, a melancholy farce. There doesn't seem to be much genuine love between the quartet of lovers who experience temporary infatuations and suffer through various missteps. Even when things don't end well, there isn't enough passion to call it a tragedy.

The most interesting relationship for me is the father/daughter relationship. Although often misguided, Melbury shows real lo
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
“This phenomenal girl will be the light of my life while I am at Hintock; and the special beauty of the situation is that our attitude and relations to each other will be purely spiritual. Socially we can never be intimate. Anything like matrimonial intentions towards her, charming as she is, would be absurd. They would spoil the ethereal character of my regard. And, indeed, I have other aims on the practical side of my life.”

Oh dear, what a cad, and this is a Thomas Hardy novel, so it will sure
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
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
The Woodlanders is written in the moody, sometimes downcast, style of Thomas Hardy’s more famous novels, Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, with the romantic flavor that defines Far From the Madding Crowd. It becomes obvious early on that Giles Winterborne and Grace Melbury are not to have a smooth course to love, although their youthful attachment and her father's approval should have pointed to the fact that they would. The presence of a new doctor in the district, Doctor Fitzpier ...more
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Katie Lumsden
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
A brilliant Hardy, with wonderful characters and a brilliant engaging plot - full of that poignancy I so love in Hardy. For the majority of the book, I was thinking this might be my new favourite Hardy. I might be, although I'm still undecided as I didn't adore the ending. Nonetheless, a real staple Hardy and a brilliant brilliant book.
Jun 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Christopher
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
Joy D
The Woodlanders was published in 1887 and it is reflective of its time. The story centers around life in Little Hintock, a fictional village in rural England. Grace Melbury, the only child of a timber-merchant, is returning home after being educated in the city. Her father has paid for a higher education to enable her to rise above her social station and marry well. She has been courted by local resident Giles Winterbourne, but when his situation deteriorates, their bond is broken. She is then n ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Katie Lumsden
This is a very strong 4, closer to 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed reading this Hardy novel that I'd never even heard of until finding Katie Lumsden's YouTube channel, "Books and Things" (a link to her channel: Katie loves Victorian lit., and is so enthusiastic and passionate about it that I've caught the fever too. And I'm really grateful, because Vic lit is such a comfort read for me.

This was an unpredictable love story that I really enjoyed. Thomas Hardy
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
The novel reflects common Hardy themes: a rustic, evocative setting, poorly chosen marriage partners, unrequited love, social class mobility, and an unhappy, or at best equivocal, ending. As with most his other works, opportunities for fulfillment and happiness are forsaken or delayed. The plot was very credible and the characters were well developed. It had a very sad ending but very fitting for the circumstances. I would recommend this book if you have enjoyed some of this other writings.
Christine PNW
As part of one of my Goodreads groups, I am doing a Hardy project this summer. The Woodlanders isn't the first Hardy I've read - in 2015, I read Far from the Madding Crowd and I read The Mayor of Casterbridge some time prior to 2011. As is my custom, I saved the scholarly introduction for my edition until after I read the book.

The Woodlanders is one of Hardy's later books, published in 1887, and is set in the woodland village of Little Hintock. It explores many of the usual Hardy themes: marria
Aug 15, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics-british
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
E. G.
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
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'
May 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Having loved Thomas Hardy's _ Far from the Madding Crowd_, I decided to take a chance on this lesser-known work. I am so glad I did! Hardy is a genius at symbolism, and weaving subtle meanings into his nature descriptions. In this case, the setting was the deep woods of Dorset and he brought the trees so much to life that they almost stood as a mysterious protagonist. In other novels, I tend to get bored with overly wrought nature descriptions, but I savored the earthy evocations he created. Har ...more
I enjoyed it perhaps a little more than I expected to.... but in my opinion it's not on a par with Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native or The Mayor of Casterbridge. In this novel particularly, it seems that Hardy can never use a short word when a long one is available, so some of the passages are a bit laborious and there are places where he decidedly overplays the pathos and melodrama.
The theme is similar to FFTMC and the pastoral setting is rather haunting... made me feel quit
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was warned before I started reading this that Thomas Hardy is a miserable bastard. Four chapters in and he was comparing winter mornings to dead babies so I can't disagree.

This wasn't a happy book but I did enjoy it. Hardy's prose are beautiful and the way he describes the forests and apple orchards really brings the setting to live.

I liked the characters for the most part. There are two typically "good" and "moral" characters and both get the saddest endings with one dying and the other doo
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Renee M
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
The things I loved about The Woodlanders are the things I love about reading Hardy: the beautiful description, the characters who are believably from country life, the persistent resonance of actions and choices.

But it's just so Hardy that I feel like the characters and storyline will blend, in my memory, into all the others. If it doesn't, I'll come back and add a star.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is like nothing else I have ever read. Characters, relationships, and landscape twist and turn, "branch" out in a new direction, send out new shoots of life. Much of it, for me, was laugh-out-loud funny. Much was mythical, with many references to Norse and Classical mythology. The prose changes constantly--lyrical and descriptive suddenly becomes stilted and awkward. The title is bang on. A village of people harvesting trees live in a different dimension, and outsiders disrupt the flow ...more
Ann Litz
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the joys of reading an early book by an author famous for later works is recognizing the intimations of the greater novels in the lesser. In this sense Woodlanders is a lavishly illustrated seed-catalog of Hardy classics.

The novel begins with one of the most desolate passages in literature, and one that succintly summarizes the novel’s theme of happiness just out of reach:

“The physiognomy of a deserted highway expresses solitude to a degree that is not reached by mere dales or downs, and
Oct 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 10, 2016 marked it as to-read
Okay, so I've seen the movie with Rufus Sewell. I mean who doesn't like Rufus. It was so heart wrenching, but I kind of liked it. Hoping I like the book a lot better than the movie. :)
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Thomas Hardy has my entire heart. I had missed his writing so much and going back to Wessex felt like home.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy - 4 stars 3 12 Jul 05, 2019 09:18AM  
Reading 1001: The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy 3 14 Jun 17, 2019 07:50PM  
Victorians!: Woodlanders - Reading Schedule 12 65 Mar 18, 2017 06:48AM  
Victorians!: Woodlanders - Chapters 1-7 80 55 Feb 24, 2017 02:51PM  
Victorians!: Woodlanders - Background and Resources 25 41 Feb 11, 2017 05:36PM  
Boxall's 1001 Bo...: The Woodlanders 1 22 May 12, 2015 08:20AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Alternative Book Cover 2 19 Aug 02, 2014 11:02AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Thomas Hardy
  • Shirley
  • Romola
  • Adam Bede
  • News from Nowhere
  • Agnes Grey
  • Mary Barton
  • The Mill on the Floss
  • Wives and Daughters
  • Miss Marjoribanks (Chronicles of Carlingford, #5)
  • Basil
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  • The Master of Ballantrae
  • Villette
  • Sylvia's Lovers
  • The Professor
  • Lady Audley's Secret
  • East Lynne
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Philippa Gregory is best known for reimagining the lives of famous royal women in bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn...
70 likes · 33 comments
“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.” 27 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.”
More quotes…