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Hardy at his best. In Eustacia Hardy has created one of his most compelling heroines. A character trapped by a society that does not empathise with her determined and indapendant nature, she breaks with convention and suffers the consequences. Whilst reading this book one thinks that the authorial voice is very much in love with this character, as although flawed in many respects her presentation is warm and loving, something that makes her fate all the more moving. Hardy's tragedy paints the picture of a time when those that did not conform to the expected norms of society were expelled from society. Inspired by Darwin's survival of the fittest Hardy's individuals either adapt to to fit in or are excluded from society, sometimes through death, and sometimes through exile. Nature plays a huge role in this book, both as a character and also as a metaphorical device. In "The Return of the Native" life revolves around the heath and those that adapt to it are sustained by it, and those that seek to escape it are killed by it. The descriptions in this book are sublime and aloe make the book a fantastic read, the opening chapter is entirely devoted to presenting the heath. The characters are complex and well presented and often presented in pairs. If you only read one Thomas Hardy book it should be this one.
When i was given this book as my pre-1900 prose piece for English Literature i honestly was very close to tears. I thought it was going to be dreary, tedious and in language i couldnt understand. However, i was wrong.
The story begins with a massively long description of Egdon Heath, the location of the novel. Hardy devotes 50 long and gruelling pages describing everything from the sky to the trees to the grass and flowers. I admit, this part wasn't the most rivetting but stick with it, its well worth it.
The story continues with the trials and tribulations of the Yeobright family, and without giving the complete story away, i will attempt to give a brief description of what occurs.
Clym Yeobright, the main character, returns from a great business venture in Paris to "educate the heathfolk" but he is soon awe-struck by the sheer beauty of Eustacia, a mysterious, dark and wild pagan. Eustacia attempts to woo Clym, believing that he is her ticket out of the Egdon which she hates so; unfortunately, she is unaware Clym intends to stay.
The story tells us of their lives and of many different sub plots which cover adultery, family values and many others. Inevitably, being a great Hardy novel, the story ends in complete tragedy, but i shall not ruin the story by describing for whom it was for.
Therefore, i would definately recommend this book.
I have even decided to purchase a number of other Hardy novels to read in my own leisure time, something i would never have dreamed of doing last year. I have just started the Mayor of Casterbridge, and i will be writing a review of that in the near future!
So, get literate, read some Hardy, and i promise you will love it.
This is my favourite author and 'Return of the Native' is for me, the best book ever written so I can't recommend this enough.
I had to read this for part of my English teaching degree and I wasn't really looking forward to it. It looked dense, depressing and dreary! The first chapter, full of the local dialect doesn't exactly draw you in but as soon as the real story starts I couldn't put this down.
It is such a beautiful book, he describes the wilderness landscape in detail, allowing the reader to be drawn into the atmosphere and setting. The story has many twists and turns but is essentially about finding love. The characters are all well-developed, particularly Eustacia - who is not necessarily likable but I could not help wanting to know more about her - she is a fascinating fictional character. Hardy is often criticised for being depressing - and particularly that his female characters are all victims. His books are not exactly light but they are powerful, thought-provoking and emotive.
I have re-read this many times as is always a satisying read.
Think of Thomas Hardy and you think of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbridge. Personally, I adore all these books and have read them many times but for me they don't always do justice to Hardy's amazing talents. It is in books such as Return of the Native that his true skills - that of engrossing you completely in a evermore fantastic story - are demonstrated truly. The Return of The Native tells the story of two cousins from the Yeobright family and the relationships each has. Each cousin's choice of partner is disapproved of by their families - as ever with young love this makes them more determined to be together. As the story develops Hardy shows you a wonderfully beleivable world of love against the odds, deception, loyalty and death. The twists in the tale make it impossible to put down from start to finish without detracting from the basic storyline and getting confusing. Obviously I can't give away too much of the story here as the point of this opinion is to make you read the book for yourselves. If you're a big Thomas Hardy fan, or if reading the Mayor of Casterbridge at school put you right off, you should try this one. All the talents that Hardy is rightly renowned for are beautifully showcased to perfection.