52 in 52 Week 13: The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
First off, I became a Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) fan when I read The Return of the Native. My book club, overall, disliked it which really surprised me. He writes beautifully, but his stories aren't always all pretty and tied up in a bow of a happy ending. His genre is naturalism. It is also a "bildungsroman" novel meaning it charts the protagonist's moral and psychological development. In this case the protagonist is Michael Henchard. The opening summary and scene had me hooked from page one.
The novel was written from 1885-1186 and published in serial form in both England and America.
Rich, dense, formal prose describes characters and settings (both natural and social) in detail; gives a sense of nature's majesty and power: "The sun had recently set, and the west heaven was hung with rosy cloud, which seemed permanent, yet slowly changed."I distinctly remember feeling this way when I read The Return of the Native. His description of the heath made me feel like I was right there. I felt like I was in Casterbridge also.
I found the protagonist extremely sympathetic and found myself rooting for him, despite his imperfections!