This is Hardy's first novel and I have to say in places it really shows. Some of the writing seems awkward but overall it is still enjoyable. It felt rather slow to begin with. But I found the more I read the more I was enjoying it. It started like an Austen or a Mrs. Gaskell romance, young girl forced into a marriage with a man she didn't love because of her poor circumstances. The "mystery" aspect of the book was slow to get going but once it did it was quite dramatic.
The social commentary was fairly light. But what was there about the circumstances of women was really great. I have to say I really admired the characterisation of the women in this book, something Hardy is kinda hit and miss about but Miss Aldclyff was great and I loved Anne Seeway in the last half. It would have been so easy to make her unsympathetic but she became the heroine. It was a fun book, definitely not terribly thought provoking but enjoyable. Hardy is definitely becoming one of my favourite authors....Continua
Not a particularly good story though it promises well at the start. After the fire at the Three Tranters it deteriorates considerably. Manston's attitude toward his new wife is unbelievable. Hardy is so much better when he is describing the rural scene that he knew so well, rather than attempting a mystery....Continua