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Ellen Allen Writes

Avid reader. Wild swimmer. Indie Author of The Sham. Collector of writing titbits (http://www.ellenallen.co) and all things bookish...

The Mayor of Casterbridge; a depressing masterclass from Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge - Thomas Hardy, Keith Wilson

I read a little Hardy when I was at university but after reading Jude the Obscure and being completely depressed, I gave him up. I like real life, but he’s always so, well, downbeat. Now with the release of Far From the Madding Crowd and having seen the stylish BBC adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, I opened the first page of The Mayor of Casterbridge and got a shock. It was a true masterclass in how to hook a reader; a man fed up with his wife and child, and very drunk, auctions them off to the highest bidder in a bar. He wakes up hours later slumped on the very same bar stool, only to realise that his wife and child did actually go with the man, in exchange for 5 pounds. Years later, he has worked his way up to become the Mayor of a town called Casterbridge, when his wife and child re-emerge. And so begins his downfall…


It was a depressing read, as I expected it to be, but at least this one had the remnants of happiness in places for some of the other characters (it’s no spoiler to know that the mayor, Henchard, meets an unhappy ending). Surprisingly, I thought the female characters were a little more drawn out than the male. I wanted to know more about what drove Henchard to do what he did and what he felt as a result. The same was true of his nemesis, Donald Farfrae, a man who we follow but never really understand in the same way as the women who love and are loved by them.


He’s obviously a very good writer and it’s a good introduction to Hardy’s work because it’s not quite so depressing and short-ish enough to know if you want to read on…


This is taken from my blog at ellenallen.co

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Source: http://ellenallen.co/2015/07/30/the-mayor-of-casterbridge-a-depressing-masterclass-from-hardy