20 Jan 2017



BACK COVER BLURB: Wars, smuggling, mystery, witchcraft, - the lives of the Wessex villagers may appear quiet and uneventful, but below the surface they are anything but dull.

Solomon Selby's uncle Job nearly comes face to face with Bonaparte one dark night, three mysterious strangers interrupt the festivities of a christening party, and clergyman Richard Stockdale is horrified to discover that the woman he loves is leader of a group of brandy smugglers.

FIRST SENTENCE {THE SEVEN STRANGERS}: Among the few features of agricultural England which retain an appearance but little modified by the lapse of centuries, may be reckoned the long, grassy and furzy downs, coombs or ewe-leases, as they are called according to their kind, that fill a large area of certain counties in the south and south-west.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {THE MELANCHOLY HUSSAR}: She bared her poor curst arm; and Davies, uncovering the face of the corpse, took Gertrude's hand, and held it so that her arm lay across the dead man's neck, upon a line the colour of an unripe blackberry, which surrounded it.

SOURCE: Off my TBR mountain where it has been for longer than I care to remember.

  • 2017 Mount TBR challenge (1 book of 24 read)
  • What's In A Name? challenge: 'A title with X in it' category (1 book of 6 read).

MY THOUGHTS: As someone who (a) tends not to enjoy the so-called classics and (b) tends to be left unsatisfied by short stories I was a bit out of my comfort zone with this 1888 collection of stories by Thomas Hardy. However ...

As is generally the case with collections I found some of the stories more enjoyable than others but overall I found myself enjoying this selection more than I had expected.

Apparently one of the 'easier' introductions to newcomers of Hardy's stories such as myself. I don't know if it was because the more I read the more I grew accustomed to the style and use of unfamiliar words but certainly the more I read the better the stories became.

On the whole, more dark, tragic and, yes, even more romantic than I had expected. It came as something of a surprise that I felt such a range of emotions - one of my complaints about short stories being I rarely find myself becoming emotionally engaged.

Just goes to show that stepping outside of your comfort zone can pay off.

* Please note the book I have linked to is not the edition I read which was a Macmillan publication published in 1976 for the princely sum of 95p. An on-line edition is available here.


Kelly said...

I have to be in the right mood for short stories, but do enjoy them. I'm not sure I've read any Hardy, and this sounds like it might be a good place to begin.

Well done on meeting the "X" challenge. I have one picked out, but I've yet to read it.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Always great when you're glad you kept reading. Congrats!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Oh sounds like a good collection. I think this is the 3rd anthology I've heard about today. Must be anthology season. :) I might have to check this one out. Brilly review.

Suko said...

Tracy, it's wonderful when your reading material exceeds your expectations. I'm so glad you stepped out of your comfort zone a bit and enjoyed these stories.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read anything by Thomas Hardy
yet. Keeping in mind what you said in
review about your reservations about
short stories and then how you began
to appreciate this collection. I still
am going to add it to my list.

Brian Joseph said...

I have not read any of these stories. I have only read Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Hardy. I found that to be vet dark. It is neat that you liked this despite your reservations about reading it.

As for unfamiliar words, that is why I love the dictionary function of Ereaders.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Classics can be difficult to read. I'm glad you enjoyed these more than you thought you might though! :)