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Having felt the need for a complete change, I decided to revisit one of my favourite classic authors, Thomas Hardy. This novel was one that I only discovered after a conversation with a fellow teacher. I had read all the well-known Hardy novels – ‘Tess’, ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ etc. This was a new one.

It tells the story of Elfride, a naive young girl who has grown up with her father, the Reverend Swancourt. Like Tess, Elfride is an innocent who suffers through her inexperience of life and love. Hardy once again highlights the plight of young women at that time, and how they were shackled by society’s rules.

I enjoyed the novel, Hardy’s landscapes are always so evocative. Eflride, I didn’t quite take to, I found her a little irritating. Her suitor, Stephen, was, for me, a little too meek. As for her second suitor, Knight, well, I wouldn’t have let him get within six feet of me. I didn’t like him.

But don’t let me put you off. For Hardy fans, it delivers. It has it all. I just didn’t find the characters appealing or sympathetic.

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