Title: Under the Greenwood Tree.
Author: Thomas Hardy.
Genre: Fiction, literature, romance, social criticism.
Publication Date: 1872.
Summary: A delightful portrayal of a picturesque rural society, tinged with gentle humour and quiet irony. However, the novel is not merely a charming rural idyll. The double-plot, in which the love story of Dick Dewey and Fancy Day, and Fancy having to choose between three very eligible suitors, is inter-related with a tragic chapter in the history of Mellstock Choir, a generations-long tradition going out of business to make room for the new organ, hints at the poignant disappearance of a long-lived and highly-valued traditional way of life.
My rating: 7.5/10.
♥ To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature. At the passing of the breeze, the fir-trees sob and moan no less distinctly than they rock; the holly whistles as it battles with itself; the ash hisses amid its quiverings; the beech rustles while its flat boughs rise and fall. And winter, which modifies the note of such trees as shed their leaves, does not destroy its individuality.
♥ “...a saint is sinner enough not to be cheated.”
♥ “...that by the time a man’s head is finished, ‘tis almost time for him to creep underground.”
♥ Dick wondered how it was that when people were married they could be so blind to romance; and was quite certain that if he ever took to wife that dear impossible Fancy, he and she would never be so dreadfully practical and undemonstrative of the Passion as his father and mother were. The most extraordinary thing was, that all the fathers and mothers he knew were just as undemonstrative as his own.
♥ Mrs. Penny came to the door at this point in the discussion. Like all good wives, however much she was inclined to play the Tory to her husband’s Whiggism, and vice versá, in times of peace, she coalesced with his heartily enough in time of war.
♥ “I never had no head, never! that’s how it happened to happen, hee-hee!”
They all assented to this, not with any sense of humiliating Leaf by disparaging him after an open confession, but because it was an accepted thing that Leaf didn’t in the least mind having no head, that he habitually walked about without one being an unimpassioned matter of parish history.
♥ “Silent? ah, he is silent! He can keep silence well. That man’s silence is wonderful to listen to.”
“There’s so much sense in it. Every moment of it is brimming over with sound understanding.”
♥ “Ah,” murmured Spinks, “‘twould be sharper upon her if she were born for fortune, and not to it! I suffer from that affliction.”
♥ “I don’t know what to make of it at all,” said Dick gloomily.
“All I can make of it is,” the tranter said, raising his whip, arranging his different joints and muscles, and motioning to the horse to move on, “that if you can’t read a maid’s mind by her motions, nater d’seem to say thou’st ought to be a bachelor.”
♥ The answer had an unexpected manner of incivility in it that must have been rather surprising to young Dewy. At the same time it may be observed, that when a young woman returns a rude answer to a young man’s civil remark, her heart is in a state which argues rather hopefully for his case than otherwise.
♥ “Have the craters stung ye?” said Enoch to Geoffrey.
“No, not much - only a little here and there,” he said with leisurely solemnity, shaking one bee out of his shirt sleeve, pulling another from among his hair, and two or three more from his neck. The others looked on during this proceeding with a complacent sense of being out of it, - much as a European nation in a state of internal commotion is watched by its neighbours.
♥ Geoffrey’s firm opposition to the notion of Dick as a son-in-law was more than she had expected. She had frequently seen her lover since that time, it is true, and had loved him more for the opposition than she would have otherwise dreamt of doing - which was a happiness of a certain kind. Yet, though love is thus an end in itself, it must be believed to be the means to another end if it is to assume the rosy hues of an unalloyed pleasure. And such a belief Fancy and Dick were emphatically denied just now.
♥ “Ah, sonnies!” said the tranter, as Dick retired, “‘tis a talent of the female race that low numbers should stand for high, more especially in matters of waiting, matters of age, and matters of money.”