Book Review of The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

Return of the native is my first Hardy book, I blog on Civilizations rising and falling,, economics and industrialism and energy issues and I felt I needed perspective of the world before and during  the early days of the Industrial Revolution. It may be a lousy reason to read Thomas Hardy,  you say. But  he returned in spades research material I was seeking and the book ended up being a great read with believable characters, honest description of rural life in the heathland of old Wessex, that area in south and west England now renamed.. I have lived most of my 7 decades without cable TV and have never seen a soap opera but if I had, I hope it would be as good as this book portrays relationships rising and colliding and conjoining. The characters are the beautiful sultry Eustacia Vye stuck in the boodocks and longing for love and city lights; Damon Wildeve, an engineer turned innkeeper who sometimes longs for Eustacia;  Idealistic Clym Yeobright who returns from a financially rewarding and unfulfilling career in Paris  to set up a radical school. Eustacia sees Clym as her ticket out of boring  but beautiful Egdon Heath. He moves in with his mother  and his cousin, Thomasin Yeobright, a sweet and substantial country girl. Clym is the returning native of the title. Egdon heath is the setting and so richly described that it becomes in effect a character in the novel. There are a variety of interesting locals with Diggory Venn a reddleman, who mines a red iron oxide clay used to mark sheep. Diggory is an important unassuming and generous character of remarkable competence who assumes increasing importance throughout the novel. The characters interact like shifting Venn diagrams of love relationships. Love won. Love’s labor lost. Love deferred. Early on I found Hardy slow going with long flowery descriptions of just about everything and everybody with a myriad of mythical allusions both Nordic and Greek but I found the poetic style started to  grow on me. There was not abundant dialog but what there was seemed honest and to the point. The second third of the novel started to pick up with startling plot shifts and drama. At times reading turned into page turning frenzy. I will spare the reader the gory details but the ending was satisfying and Thomas hardy likes to tidy up all the loose ends. His characterization was well done with fully formed  men and women having to face all  the trials that flesh is heir to but possessing wistfulness and an ability to get on with their lives. I am ready for more Thomas Hardy.

Published by Rendezvous Mountain Farm

I was born in Cascade county Montana and raised in a dozen Air Force SAC bases. I attended Holy Cross,West Point and UNC in Chapel Hill(MD"71). Army doc in the last years of the Viet Nam fiasco. My wife and I live in a log cabin I built from standing dead lodgepole trees we cut from Shadow Mountain and regional local timber in 1976 . I've done a dozen different jobs including construction, boat building,magazine writing and commercial fishing and retired from the Emergency and Operating Room in 2004. We manage a small diversified organic farm including leased land which totals about 40 acres in the Jackson Hole valley. We raise a variety of livestock which includes some heritage breeds of animals and poultry. We grow most of our food and forage. Our land is irrigated from Granite Creek and the Snake River and we raise and bale our own organic hay. We supplement with food collected from Jackson Hole Food rescue which is mostly dairy, bread and past date vegetables and food from the grocery stores and restaurants.

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