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The Return of the Native (1878)

by Thomas Hardy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,66284984 (3.92)400
"Returning to Egdon Heath from Paris, Clym Yeobright intends to settle down and improve the lives of his townspeople. But the alluring and mysterious Eustacia Vye has other plans. She believes Clym can provide the cosmopolitan life she craves, if only they return to Paris. When their ideals prove incompatible, desperation breeds tragedy, and lives are changed in ways Clym and Eustacia never could have foretold"--Container.… (more)
  1. 20
    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Porua)
    Porua: I would like to recommend another Thomas Hardy novel, Far from the Madding Crowd. When I first read The Return of the Native it kind of surprised me to see how very similar it is to Far from the Madding Crowd. They are very similar in their story lines, characterization and narrative style.… (more)
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» See also 400 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
This was a fun read. It was part soap opera, part humor, part literary brilliance. The characters were interesting, and the descriptions of setting were superb. I enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it highly. ( )
  MMKY | Jul 3, 2020 |
Eustacia Vye is a terrific character, and ever scene she's in makes for good reading. I would give this book five stars if the entire book had been her story, but Hardy seems to wobble with her death, leaving it ambiguous if she killed herself or perished in an accident. I wouldn't have preferred a suicide to conclude her story, but if that's how her tale had to end, I wish Hardy had just made it plain. Then, after Eustacia is gone, the book staggers on a few more chapter to tell what happens to the rest of the characters, but by that point the momentum is gone. Still worth reading, just not as good as his other novels. ( )
  James_Maxey | Jun 29, 2020 |
My very first Hardy. I've always had this impression of Hardy but I've never had an actual OCCASION to actually read him!

Naturally, I have been mortified at my neglect. So many people have been required to read his works and yet I have gracelessly skipped on by. For shame!

So what do I think of this Master of the English Novel?


OMG he writes such TORRID SOAP OPERAS!

I mean, let me be clear here: his writing from the very first passages was GORGEOUS, flowing, evocative, and darkly humorous. And that's just the description of the fictional town. I LOVED IT.

And then we were introduced to the people.

Young people, all of them. Stupid young people. With not a lick of sense, amazing passions, blinded perceptions, wild imaginations, and almost guaranteed spots on any daytime tv serial designed to spark emotion but not even two brain cells.

For all that, I loved the characterizations and the build-up before the first of the marriages... and then things took a dark turn. Things went from Wuthering Heights DRAMA to Wuthering Heights tragic. Ish. I mean, nothing gets THAT tragic. Or drenched in pathos.

But this does come close. :)

Oh, woe! Woe! Woe! Whoah.

Recommend? Well, let me put it this way. I would knock on every door and pound on any window if I read a writer with this much talent putting his skills to a much worthier topic than the stupidities and tragedies of kids with their heads firmly ensconced in their backsides. To imagine this as a fantasy title would have me jittering with enough pent-up excitement to power a city block for a week.

But alas. Alak. This is just a torrid soap opera.

A good one, mind you, and it even ends on a solid moral foundation for the edification of the gentle reader too scared to be scandalized by a whiff of IMMORALITY. But then, we must make some adjustments for the time in which this was written.

It really is a classic of wonderful WRITING. Too bad about the ideas. Alas. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
This was a good book. I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the places and people. I know sometimes that the descriptions can go over the top and make the story boring, but this was just the right amount. The version of the book that I got was the audio book narrated by Alan Rickman (which was the reason I picked it up). Great story made all the better by Alan Rickman's voice. :) ( )
  BelindaS7 | Apr 14, 2020 |
Hardy is synonymous with 19th century English country landscapes, and never more so than in Return of the Native. Set on the mythical Egdon Heath, this novel is the next best thing to a time machine, so evocative are his descriptions of these bygone Wessex rural scenes. One doesn't just read a Hardy novel - it's a completely immersive virtual reality experience, and for this reason he remains up there as one of my favourite novelists of all time.

Although perhaps not so well known as Hardy's greats such as The Mayor of Casterbridge, this is still a very fine novel. In typical Hardy fashion there is heartbreak and tragedy in spades, yet it is the rural landscape that almost becomes the main protagonist. The descriptions are incredibly vivid, yet their conveyance is so deftly subtle that it adds an additional dimension and depth to the story rather than getting in the way of it.

Whilst many novels of that era excel at transplanting you as a fly on the wall to the centre of English social history, I can't think of a better way to experience English natural history than through the experience of a Hardy novel. By the end of Return of the Native the heath was as familiar to me as the countryside on my own doorstep. No, on second thoughts, it was significantly more familiar. Our green space has changed in so many ways since that time, but whilst some of the flora and fauna has changed forever (for instance, adders are much rarer in number now in the English countryside than they would have been back then), it is our interaction with it which has changed most acutely. In Hardy's time the average rural dweller had little option but to traverse their local countryside by foot, often travelling many miles in a day to run an errand or visit a neighbour. Imagine, therefore, how much more familiar and in touch with the earth you become when you are literally walking through it's rural midst every day. And that is precisely the experience that Hardy brings with this novel. You feel 19th century England.

This was Hardy book number six for me, and thinking I'd already peaked with his best work I was absolutely delighted to be proved wrong with this novel.

4 stars - a wonderful sojourn in rural Victorian England. ( )
1 vote AlisonY | Nov 11, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hardy, Thomasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leighton, ClareIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lynd, SylviaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, Agnes MillerIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, Agnes MillerIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rickman, AlanReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, WarnerIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Theroux, AlexanderIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winterich, John T.Prefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodcock, GeorgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"To sorrow
I bade good morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind;
But cheerly, cheerly,
She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind.
I would deceive her,
And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind."
Dedication
First words
A Saturday afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment.
Quotations
Human beings, in their generous endeavour to construct a hypothesis that shall not degrade a First Cause, have always hesitated to conceive a dominant power of lower moral quality than their own; and, even while they sit down and weep by the waters of Babylon, invent excuses for the oppression which prompts their tears.
As for Thomasin, I never expected much from her; and she has not disappointed me.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Return of the Native was first published in Belgravia magazine in 12 parts in 1878 and revised by Hardy in 1895 and 1912, when he produced a definitive Wessex Edition of all of his novels.
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140435182, 0141199741

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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