This is Hardys second novel and the first to feature his realistic dream setting of Wessex, which includes the fictional town of Casterbridge, in reality known as Dorchester and located in the south of England.
Hardys third novel is about a string band that gets replaced by a sexy female organist. After that, about how the sexy female organist is pursued by three suitors and she chooses the poor, handsome one. Response: No. Second woman: If its no trouble, I would like to install you as my spouse.
The story centers on Mellstock, a village much like Hardys native Higher Brockhampton, and the local church thats much like his own beloved Stinsford. Although its a charming love story set to the changing seasons, Under the Greenwood Tree is suffused with nostalgia for the rural way of life that Hardy saw coming to an end.
If you're looking for an enjoyable and relatively quick summer read, I highly recommend Thomas Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree or The Mellstock Quire: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School. The second plot that proceeds breezily through the novel is the romantic entanglements that arise with the arrival of the new school-mistress, the young Miss Fancy Day. Almost immediately there are three eligible suitors vying for her hand in marriage, and Hardy does a delightful job of leading the reader through the seasons of the year as we follow the progress of the lovers that finally culminates with a wedding "where music, dancing, and the singing of songs went forward with great spirit throughout the evening." I loved Hardy's use of the local Dorsetshire dialect in his character's dialog, and mixed with his almost poetic descriptions of the rural environment and the seasons, the novel imparts the comfortable nostalgia of a daydream on a warm summer afternoon whilst reclining against the bole of an old oak tree on the side of hill.
Since I had watched the movie, I expected this to be a little fluffier than typical Hardy fare, but I loved the movie and expected that to be ok. The heroine in the book was silly and vapid - Keeley's version was sensible and conflicted. It's a sweet, harmless book - I just prefer a little more Hardy in my Hardy novels.
Under the Greenwood Tree or the Mellstock Quire (which was the first given title to the book) is the first successful prose writing by Thomas Hardy. In both the books, Hardy is sympathetic towards his heroes and portrays them with excellent human qualities while he is critical of his heroines, always implicating them with flirtatious behavior.
(2.5) Between college and grad school I read Hardys five major novels, but its probably been 10 years or more since I tried a new one. Far from the Madding Crowd is one of my favorite books of all time, so I couldnt help but compare Under the Greenwood Tree* to it unfavorably, alas as I was reading. Thats just two years before Madding Crowd, and the two are quite similar in a few ways: the main female character is a conceited flirt who has to decide between three potential suitors; the supporting cast is made up of rustics who speak in country dialect; and the Dorset setting, including the landscape, weather and traditional activities, is a strong presence in its own right. The novel is set a generation back, in about the 1840s, so has an elegiac tone to it, and Hardys subtitles suggest he was trying to freeze an image of a bygone time.
Here, we still have the fallible, three-dimensional characters Hardy is so good at delineating, but they are able to correct their mistakes, the circumstances of their world are not so aligned against them.
In the 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.