Friday, March 29, 2013

A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy

I have thought and thought about how to review A Pair of Blue Eyes without giving away the story line.  But it's almost impossible. The title is deceptively lighthearted, but the story is not. A young inexperienced vicar's daughter gives her heart to the first eligible man she meets. When her father forbids the marriage based on the young man's poor family connections, the suitor goes away to try and better himself. Meanwhile the young woman meets another man who is much more her intellectual and social equal and the trouble begins.  It's a love triangle that ends quite badly.

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."

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Thanks, Hope. I would like to read that, based on your review!

Cathy Barber