A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy

This is my third Hardy novel, but I’m getting the feeling I should have stopped after my first. Both A Pair of Blue Eyes and Far from the Maddening Crowd are very different to the more nuanced, and at times dark, Tess of the D’Urbervilles. The former two read more like very typical Victorian-era, romantic fiction, where as the latter is much richer in both its content and gorgeous prose.

That said, I enjoyed A Pair of Blue Eyes much more than Far From the Maddening Crowd. The heroine Elfride Swancourt (who was based on Hardy’s first wife Emma Gifford) is flawed, but immensely likeable. The male leads are slightly annoying though, especially Henry Knight and his rather possessive and condescending nature. Knight’s views on women certainly highlight the oppressive and sexually-prejudiced atmosphere women existed in during that time. His attitude comprises one of the main themes of the novel and provides plenty of material that will aggravate modern readers, but is interesting from a theoretical perspective.

The bulk of the plot was pretty predictable and didn’t really grasp my attention that well. But this meant I was taken by complete surprise when Hardy chose to end the story in a way totally contrary to my expectations, which I loved.

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7 responses

  1. You’ve given me hope. I’m about 60 pages into this book but it’s been collecting dust on my shelf lately… perhaps I should pick it up again.

    1. It does get better, but it’s not very remarkable for the most part I guess. Good luck with it!

  2. Hello! Glad you’re well & hope you’re reading enough to be satisfying. I still haven’t read any Hardy, have become a convert of NetGalley lately!

    1. It’s funny but I guess I’ve kind of been feeling too restless to read. Everything I’ve picked up for ages I’ve read a few chapters and then discarded. It’s been kind of nice to have a bit of a break though, I’m finding it easier to get back into things now. I still haven’t had a good look at NetGalley, will have to check it out. I’m terrible with actually writing about/reading the books I commit to though in general!

  3. Good to see you’re still around :) I’m bad with posting these days, too. Hardy is usually too dramatic for me :D

  4. Nice to see you posting after a long time, Dominique :) We have all been eagerly waiting for your posts. I miss those long beautiful literary posts that you write. Glad to know that you are enjoying Hardy’s books. I think he is one of the wonderful writers of the late-19th century / early 20th century, who is not talked about much today. I saw a movie version of his book ‘The Woodlanders’ sometime back and I loved it for the way it depicted the seasons and their impact on people’s lives.

  5. Plz check your mail. :)

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