Honestly, I could hardly put this book down. I kept wondering, Would Elfride do what was right? Which man would win her heart? Was one of them really more worthy than the other? Was Elfride ever going to show any backbone? Dozens of similar questions haunted me throughout the book.
Although it may sound like it, this is no fluffy romance and the ending will surely disappoint the "happily ever after" crowd. Still, I can't say I didn't like it. The repartee between Elfride and Mr. Knight is delightful. And Hardy is by far the best Victorian writer that I've read so far this year.
Here are a few examples:
"He drew himself up with the sensitivity of a snail."
"The churchyard was serrated with the outlines of graves."
"But Elfride possessed special facilities for getting rid of trouble after a decent interval. Whilst a slow nature was imbibing a misfortune little by little, she had swallowed the whole agony of it as a draught and was brightening again. She could slough off a sadness and replace it by a hope as easily as a lizard renews a diseased limb."