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Under the Greenwood Tree
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Archive 2020 Author/Genre > 2020 September: Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy

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message 1: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Aug 30, 2020 05:23AM) (new) - added it

Lesle | 5675 comments Mod
Under the Greenwood Tree: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School is a novel by the English writer Thomas Hardy, published anonymously in 1872. It was Hardy's second published novel, and the first of what was to become his series of Wessex novels. (218 pages)

Our Host: Trisha


message 2: by Trisha (last edited Aug 30, 2020 06:57AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Trisha | 948 comments Thank you, Lesle. One of my friends describes Hardy’s books as “relentless misery”, after being forced to read his work at school many years ago! Fortunately I only started reading his books from choice so enjoy them. I agree that some of his best works are sad, but Under the Greenwood Tree is more light-hearted. I hope some members will join me in reading this book during September. Hopefully, depending on where you live, you may be able to download an e-copy which is free or very low cost.


message 3: by Trisha (last edited Aug 30, 2020 06:59AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Trisha | 948 comments As in other novels, Hardy used his own place names for existing places. This novel is set in Wessex - his name for a large area in southern England. The real setting is Dorset.

In the book, he writes about Mellstock, East Mellstock & Lower Mellstock - small villages or hamlets. The real area is mainly the parish of Stinsford, about a mile from the county town of Dorchester. It includes Higher Bockhampton & Lower Bockhampton. If you don’t know the area, this may not seem interesting - but it’s where Hardy was born &, although he was eventually buried in Westminster Abbey in London, at his request his heart was buried in the graveyard at St Michael’s church in Stinsford.

I mentioned Dorchester - it’s a market town, which you probably already know about as Hardy named it Casterbridge, as in The Mayor of Casterbridge.

If you are wondering about villages & hamlets, my understanding is that a hamlet is just a small group of homes, while a village has a church as well as homes.


message 4: by Trisha (last edited Aug 30, 2020 06:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Trisha | 948 comments I am aware that some members joining this read may not have read a book by Thomas Hardy before, or may be unfamiliar with some of the dialect & colloquial expressions used. Especially if English is not your first language, there will be some words that you don’t recognise. For anyone struggling to read the book at first, my advice is to start by reading a chapter at a time (they are short chapters). Read quickly to get an idea of what is happening, but without stopping to check unfamiliar words. It may help to read some of the dialect out loud to get the sounds without being distracted by the strange spelling. Once you get involved & become more used to the dialect it suddenly feels much easier to read & understand. (Apologies to those who have read lots of similar books before & find this easy or obvious.)

I hope members will enjoy this book & join in discussions.


Kathy | 1222 comments I’ll be joining in, Trisha.


Trisha | 948 comments Kathy wrote: "I’ll be joining in, Trisha."

That’s good news, Kathy.


message 7: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 8422 comments Mod
I've read this before and if I remember correctly, there are bell-ringers in this book as well, for those of you who read The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers.


Trisha | 948 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I've read this before and if I remember correctly, there are bell-ringers in this book as well, for those of you who read The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers."

I can’t remember, though I have also read this before. The main focus is on church musicians. The two books are very different despite the apparent similarity of being set partly in a village church.


Jane | 9 comments Ready to start book arrived and this is my first read with the group


Trisha | 948 comments Jane wrote: "Ready to start book arrived and this is my first read with the group"

Welcome, Jane. It’s good to have you join the discussion.


message 11: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 9 comments Thank you and am looking forward to this read

I read this in my teens many moons ago and am a huge fan of Hardy


message 12: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - added it

Lesle | 5675 comments Mod
Jane, Glad you are joining in!

Have you read many of Hardy's works?


message 13: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 9 comments Yes , I have read a few but still have some I need to get to :)

I mainly read them years ago I think my favorite is Far from the Madding crowd which reminds me that I used to have a set of tourist leaflets that were given out in the tourist offices of Hardy s Wessex and his novels I was wondering if they still did them ? Fictional places in the novels but inspired by those areas.


message 14: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 9 comments Jane wrote: "Yes , I have read a few but still have some I need to get to :)

I mainly read them years ago I think my favorite is Far from the Madding crowd which reminds me that I used to have a set of tourist..."


in fact just googled this and there are loads of tours on the net just thought it would be fun to look at the photos and get into the mood as I am just about to start the novel .


Trisha | 948 comments Jane wrote: "Jane wrote: "Yes , I have read a few but still have some I need to get to :)

I mainly read them years ago I think my favorite is Far from the Madding crowd which reminds me that I used to have a s..."


My favourite is The Mayor of Casterbridge. If you want to see some modern views of the area, try to find the UK version of the television drama Broadchurch, especially the first series. A lot of it was filmed in West Bay, Bridport & the surrounding area. It’s a beautiful part of the country. I suspect that more people now know about it from Broadchurch than from Thomas Hardy’s books!


message 16: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 9 comments Trish , thank you for that info I had forgotten that

Okay , just finished the first two chapters.


Trisha | 948 comments I have finished reading this. I had forgotten how much I enjoy this book. The little details, descriptions of ordinary objects in the home, the way characters interact - it’s so beautifully written. It still surprises me that a male author of that era is happy to describe little domestic details, such as the way a table is set for a meal, how someone can be preoccupied by stitching a dress to improve its fit. Hardy turns little misunderstandings between characters into something dramatic. It’s a fairly simple plot compared with his longer works, but I think that this book shows his skill at its best.


Kathy | 1222 comments I'm about a quarter of the way in to the book and I feel the same way, Trisha. I loved the descriptions of the men and women dancing.


Trisha | 948 comments Kathy wrote: "I'm about a quarter of the way in to the book and I feel the same way, Trisha. I loved the descriptions of the men and women dancing."

I’m so pleased you are enjoying it. The dancing made me laugh, as although it’s a later era it reminded me a little of dance scenes in Jane Austen novels - the importance of being dressed appropriately, an opportunity to be close to a particular person, the fear of making a mistake with the steps & being embarrassed. But all of it in a far less formal setting, with ordinary people having fun with their family & friends.


message 20: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 9 comments I think the allusion to Jane Austen is a good one , the atmosphere at the start of the novel reminds me of Midsummer Night s Dream for some reason - endearing characters maybe.


Brenda (gd2brivard) | 28 comments I didn't think I'd be able to fit this in, but I've just found an audio copy so I'm excited to join in. It sounds like a lovely story.

Rosemarie, I did join in the read for The Nine Tailors, so that will be good for some background hopefully, as that was my first introduction. Funny how sometimes themes of some sort or just a thread of information will come up in a few places in a short period of time.


message 22: by Trisha (last edited Sep 03, 2020 01:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Trisha | 948 comments Brenda wrote: "I didn't think I'd be able to fit this in, but I've just found an audio copy so I'm excited to join in. It sounds like a lovely story.

Rosemarie, I did join in the read for The Nine Tailors, so th..."


I’m pleased you’re joining us, Brenda. But please don’t expect it to be similar to The Nine Tailors, you may be very disappointed. It’s set in an agricultural area, in a different period of history. There’s no murder - it’s a romance. There are singers & other musicians, but no bell ringers. The only real similarity is that there is a church in the story. Hopefully the audio version will make the dialect easier for you.


Brenda (gd2brivard) | 28 comments No Trisha, I understand. 😁 in fact I was looking for reads related to village life including a vicerage or something of the nature earlier and this book was on the list. The rest of the story I’ve related.

And Nine Tailors was a bit too much bell jargon for me anyway. I liked Wimsey though. 😉

I’ve gotten through a few chapters and like it so far. It seems to be merely introducing us to characters and some background. It feels a relatively sedate transition in, which I quite like. I love this type of book, what I’ve read so far anyway. Antidotes of quiet village life, meeting lots of people with quirky personalities some so very endearing. If there’s some romance thrown in as you say, bonus! Put the kettle on! 😁


Georgina (georgiet29) | 234 comments I’m joining you for this one too.
I’ve read the first few chapters and I’m enjoying it so far. I live in a little thatched cottage in a village in the middle of England so I feel that this could be set at home. I will have a look at the areas mentioned though, I’m interested in the churches as very few in the villages where I live have galleries in, but there are a lot of regional variations in how they are constructed.
I love that the choir sit up top and spy on the congregation, he paints such great characters. It is all the little things that he describes that makes it so enjoyable for me.


Trisha | 948 comments Georgina wrote: "I’m joining you for this one too.
I’ve read the first few chapters and I’m enjoying it so far. I live in a little thatched cottage in a village in the middle of England so I feel that this could b..."


It’s good that you’re joining us in this read, Georgina. It should be fun for you to compare village lives. Amazing that you live in a thatched cottage - they are so pretty. Yes, I agree with you that it’s the little details in this book that make it so interesting.


Brenda (gd2brivard) | 28 comments Georgina wrote: I live in a little thatched cottage in a village in the middle of England so I feel that this could be set at home. I will have a look at the areas mentioned though.

That just sounds so lovely and idyllic !
Yes, I’m curious for your perspective as well, if there are any comparisons please share.


Georgina (georgiet29) | 234 comments I am very lucky, it was my husbands grandmothers house so it’s been in the family for a long time and we know a lot of the history of it. We don’t have sand on the floor anymore but there’s areas that haven’t seen much improvement for a long time. We just call it shabby chic :)
Our local churches are made from sandstone, in a local village we have a church which is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Northern Europe, that was built in 675AD and you can still se the parts from this age, it’s amazing. There’s more info on that one here:-
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_S...
The Church in my village had the first ever recorded peal on five bells and was rung here in 1756. I love looking into the history local to me and imagining what the walls and buildings could tell us if they could talk.
Books like this really bring the history to life for me :)


Trisha | 948 comments Georgina wrote: "I am very lucky, it was my husbands grandmothers house so it’s been in the family for a long time and we know a lot of the history of it. We don’t have sand on the floor anymore but there’s areas t..."

That’s fabulous, Georgina - thank you for sharing this. The church looks wonderful, the sandstone is a beautiful colour. It’s lovely that you have a home with so much history. I love your comment about shabby chic. I must remember to say that about my home too - though the “shabby” parts seem to take over. I had just started to organise some replastering & painting in my home when everything was shut down this year. A good excuse perhaps, as I wanted the results but not the workmen making a huge mess!
Local history is fascinating, especially as your own home is part of it. Although it’s in a different area, I hope you can find some similarities with the area described in the book.


message 29: by Piyangie, Classical Princess (new) - rated it 3 stars

Piyangie | 1047 comments Mod
Georgina wrote: "I’m joining you for this one too.
I’ve read the first few chapters and I’m enjoying it so far. I live in a little thatched cottage in a village in the middle of England so I feel that this could b..."


Ah, Georgina, you lucky girl! You live in my dream house. :) :)


message 30: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 8422 comments Mod
Thanks for sharing, Georgina. The church looks lovely.


Kathy | 1222 comments So cool, Georgina. I love the church.


message 32: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 9 comments Georgina ! We are neighbours ;)


Kathy | 1222 comments Finished. I loved it. I'll be adding more Hardy to my TBR. I read The Mayor of Casterbridge and Tess of the D'Urbervilles many years ago and can hardly remember them. But I think my next Hardy will be Far From the Madding Crowd


Trisha | 948 comments Kathy wrote: "Finished. I loved it. I'll be adding more Hardy to my TBR. I read The Mayor of Casterbridge and Tess of the D'Urbervilles many years ago and can hardly remember them. But ..."

I’m very pleased to see your comment, Kathy.


Georgina (georgiet29) | 234 comments I’ve been having a google of the area that the novel is set, thanks Trisha for providing all the info, I’d never realised it was based on a real place.
The church looks beautiful, I had imagined it to be a lot larger to accommodate a gallery, but they’ve reinstated the gallery in recent years and it looks very small. I’m now looking at my village church history to see if we ever had anything similar here.
I also had no idea of Hardy’s final resting places, to have your heart buried separately is a little gruesome, but also very sweet at the same time.
All this history has somewhat distracted me from reading the book though! I’m about a third of the way through and will hopefully finish soon.


Georgina (georgiet29) | 234 comments Jane wrote: "Georgina ! We are neighbours ;)"

What a small world! :)


Trisha | 948 comments Georgina wrote: "I’ve been having a google of the area that the novel is set, thanks Trisha for providing all the info, I’d never realised it was based on a real place.
The church looks beautiful, I had imagined it..."


I’m pleased you found some more background information. Yes, it’s a beautiful area. I used to have many happy holidays in Dorset & that’s what started my love of Hardy’s books. There are several websites that list the place names he uses & identifies the real places.


Brenda (gd2brivard) | 28 comments Trisha & Georgina - thanks for the extra insight into the background and countryside.

I’ve not finished yet, but for me part of the beauty of a book like this is the lack of overt drama which highlights the beauty of the simplicity and everyday happenings. Where we focus on the things we normally would disregard, as being the mundane day to day. I appreciate being given the opportunity to get lost in this atmosphere, than being over saturated in dramatic effect. Trisha, you mentioned this as well I think.


Trisha | 948 comments I’m happy that you are enjoying the book, Brenda.


Kathy | 1222 comments Another one to enjoy, Gilbert.


Brenda (gd2brivard) | 28 comments I've just finished today. It was a nice little read. Thanks again for everyone for sharing the descriptions of the area, it really lent to appreciate the book more.

It wasn't necessarily what I expected, although most books aren't so I wish I could stop expecting , but I did like it. I was curious to see where Fancy was gong to end up. It seemed quite up in the air for most of the last 1/2. : )) She's a right friendly one in a way, as they would say. haha


Trisha | 948 comments Brenda wrote: "I've just finished today. It was a nice little read. Thanks again for everyone for sharing the descriptions of the area, it really lent to appreciate the book more.

It wasn't necessarily what I e..."


I’m pleased you enjoyed the book, Brenda. I like your comment about having expectations of books - that’s often my problem too.


Trisha | 948 comments Gilbert wrote: "Starting: Under the Greenwood Tree"

Welcome to the discussion, Gilbert - I hope you enjoy the book.


Gilbert | 811 comments Finished Part the First: Winter.
It's somewhat joyous to discover the holiday spirits and other habits of the "common" folk of rural England expressed with such a sense of time and place.
Most enjoyable.


Trisha | 948 comments Gilbert wrote: "Finished Part the First: Winter.
It's somewhat joyous to discover the holiday spirits and other habits of the "common" folk of rural England expressed with such a sense of time and place.
Most enjo..."


I agree. So many classics are mainly about wealthy families, while this is mostly about ordinary working people. Perhaps that’s partly why this is one of my favourites.


Georgina (georgiet29) | 234 comments I finished this last week, it was a very relaxing read and I really enjoyed it. I need to put more Thomas Hardy on my ‘to be read’ list. Thanks for hosting Trisha :)


Gilbert | 811 comments Finished. Very enjoyable.


message 49: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 9 comments Finished it too and always such a refreshing read sorry I did not join in much but I got enthralled in this book about dry stone walling in Wales ! Title Between Stone And Sky by Whitney Brown


John_Dishwasher John_Dishwasher (johndishwasher) | 72 comments This book made me happy. I totally gave myself to it.


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