So just read book three of the 52 book challenge because I am trying to get ahead before the work of university kicks in and takes over my life.
I always enjoy reading a good book (or in this case 52) and The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy was no exception. Looking at his previous work it is all set up to be another tragic and miserable tale like Tess of the D'Urbervilles. To me Hardy enjoys being miserable, or he enjoys having the power to never allow his characters to be happy.
Here is the conflict of the old movement (the Woodlanders of Little Hintock) versus new modern ideals (the genteel doctor and educated Grace) and those who fail are the characters who could not adjust.
Another factor all the main characters have flaws, some to the extent of it being fatal and this is where I turn to Giles Winterbourne.
Giles is the nice guy who looks to have a bright future because he is betrothed to Grace, she is beautiful, they've known each other all their lives and has she returns after finishing her education. Yet this education brings modern ideas to the village and Giles does not fit into that environment, she is snobbish and he is no longer any good for her. Her father sees this and turns on his promise to Giles in search of status with the local doctor Fitpier.
You have your head in your hands for this man. Giles has no self-confidence and he tries to win back a girl who until the end does not want to love him because of his status. Only until she is dumped good and proper by her cheating husband for his previous lover does she connect with Giles because she remembers who she truly is. However Hardy thinks this is not meant to be and Giles dies being the nice guy.
Marty South is a character that gets overlooked and that is Hardy's plot for her journey. She is secretly in love with Giles but has to take the back seat because a) her father is ill b) her father dies c) he is set to marry Grace d) he has his heart broken by Grace and so on. She shines on two important occasions and most poignantly the ending where she is alone with Giles, she wins him in death.
The Woodlanders is emotive but not as depressive as I thought it would be.