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Thread: Great book

  1. #1


    I accidentaly discovered this discussion without going through the site. I've never read the book, but because nobody else replied, I'm going to, and come back with an informed response. Wait here for me, this may take a few weeks. But at least you won't feel alone...<br>P.S. It had better be good

  2. #2

    Great book

    Little read I think largely because it destabilises the notion of Hardy as a novelist of rural England, Ethelberta is an absolutely delicious city satire. Savagely ironic in places, quite post-modern in its instabilities, it tells the story of the rise and rise of a butler's daughter to the position of wife of a Lord. It was not written by the Hardy I had constructed for me by educators. For a start the book has what I would argue is a happy ending (the last of them according to D.H.Lawrence). It really is FUN, as nineteenth century novels go. Peter Widdowson used it to argue that our current construction of Hardy is just that - a construction. If I was game I'd teach it to my classes. Alas the novel may be an acquired taste - something to clear away the aftertaste of Jude, perhaps. No matter, I loved it when I read it (both times). And hey, you're welcome to my essay celebrating Ethelberta, too.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2009

    Great book, indeed.

    It's 8am and I only just put down 'The Hand of Ethelberta'; I stayed up the entire night, glued to the page. Quite honestly, the ending is still sinking in -- perhaps due to lack of sleep, I'm still not exactly certain what was going on in those last few chapters (What the hell was that stuff with the Julians and that sudden will all about? And the running around the forest?) . . . but what an interesting and exhilarating book!

    I have quite a lot of experience with Hardy, and went into the book with a desire to like it, but, I admit, based on various reviews I'd read, my expectations weren't too high. But, after reading it, I feel justified in my predisposition to think well of Hardy novels, even the less-exalted ones. Personally, I thought the story was beautifully written, the characters compelling, and the plot -- while a bit fanciful -- highly amusing. While it didn't make me feel or think so deeply as 'Tess', 'Jude', and 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' did, I was entertained enormously by 'Ethelberta', and, even if I fall asleep in my cereal, I wouldn't wish back those night hours I spent reading it.

    (Now I'm going to re-read those last bits and see if I can comprehend them this time around.)
    Last edited by zuckerfey; 07-11-2009 at 11:35 AM.

  4. #4
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Hmm, Hardy and the city? Ah well, Dickens and The North turned out okay.

  5. #5
    The Reddleman Diggory Venn's Avatar
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    Jul 2015
    I would not call this book a "city satire" at all - maybe a quarter of the book, if that, is set in London. Other chapters are set in and around Bournemouth, Wareham, Swanage, Corfe Castle, Lytchett Minster, Encombe House near Kingston, and even Rouen - all, except the last, pretty much classic Wessex country we are so familiar with.
    I think Ethelberta may rank as one of my favourite Hardy heroines, and the book itself very enjoyable - real "page turners", especially the last few chapters, where things do get a bit surreal at Enckworth Court - pure Wilkie Collins ! I was even expecting Holmes and Watson to be prowling around the grounds to sort matters out !

    A good read indeed - give it a try....
    Last edited by Diggory Venn; 02-08-2016 at 04:44 AM.

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