Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Reviewed by Ingrid

Published: 1895

It's about: So Jude is basically a peasant boy in rural England who wants to become a scholar. As a child he has all kinds of lofty ideas about his future life and dreams of some day making his way to Christchurch, the university town close by (which is a fictional town based on Oxford, so I hear.) But Jude's life takes all kinds of turns he never expected, first as he meets a vulgar and busty young peasant girl name Arabella and marries her. He very quickly realizes he made a big mistake. Then he falls in love with his cousin. Then this really crazy thing happens near the end that you will NEVER see coming. Then at the end you'll be really sad and mad at Victorian society and its conservative values.

I thought: Now, I read Tess of the D'Urbervilles in high school and wasn't a huge fan, but I knew I had to give Hardy another chance. While this story was similar to Tess in that it's mostly about rural life in England, people speak in strange dialects, and characters often walk absurdly long distances, I actually really liked this book!
Remember this post? I think I was right - I like sad, dark stories the best.  This book is definitely sad and dark, but beautiful. I loved it. I was enthralled with Arabella, who I guess is supposed to be the "bad guy." She's fascinating the way the Thenardiers are fascinating in Les Miserables. Love her.
I loved how this story showed how complex love can be. Not all love stories have a happy ending. At least, in my opinion, if it's a good story they don't. Haha.

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf.

Warnings: Warning - you'll love this book! (Ha ha. Have I used that joke before? I hope not. Funny.) But I promise you, the allusions to sex in this book are so veiled that it's amusing. Definitely no graphic sex. So I don't need to warn you about that.

Favorite excerpts:
"Retracing by light of dawn the road he had followed a few hours earlier under cover of darkness, with his sweetheart by his side, he reached the bottom of the hill, where he walked slowly, and stood still. He was on the spot where he had given her the first kiss. As the sun had only just risen it was possible that nobody had passed there since. Jude looked on the ground and signed. He looked closely, and could just discern in the damp dust the imprints of their feet as they had stood locked in each other's arms. She was not there now, and 'the embroidery of imagination upon the stuff of nature' so depicted her past presence that a void was in his heart which nothing could fill."

What I'm reading next: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich