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review 2018-07-15 11:48
How are the Mighty Fallen...
The Mayor of Casterbridge - Thomas Hardy

I haven’t tackled Thomas Hardy since my high school syllabus, but what a treat I had been denying myself. Various maxims spring to mind from this book (‘you reap what you sow’; ‘no man is an island’; ‘what goes up…’) emerging from the chronicled life of Michael Henchard. From very humble beginnings as a twenty one year-old hay-trusser, the main character is hard to like. He is deeply flawed on a number of levels and yet it is surprisingly fascinating to bear witness to the harsh fate which inexorably catches up with him.

As early as the first chapter, Hardy deliberately seeks to discomfort the reader, when a drunken Henchard sells his wife (Susan) and newborn child (Elizabeth-Jane) for five guineas. Notwithstanding his subsequent sense of shame and self-imposed repentance in the sober light of day, this repugnant act haunts his private life and has the attendant potential to also scupper his subsequently crafted image as the first citizen of Casterbridge.

Fast forward eighteen years and the reappearance of Susan with their now adult daughter offers the chance to make amends, but the intervening years have generated an inevitable trail of complications and though circumstances have changed, Henchard’s tempestuous nature has not. Yet, it is the tension between the social norms of English society at the time and Henchard’s earthy country perspective which is a constant source of friction. The mayor has risen to the gentrified classes a ‘self-made’ man, to be partially shackled by upper class expectations. In some ways Henchard is courageous, proud and willing to withstand public opprobrium, but he is also ruthless, manipulative and selfish, a powerful man used to getting his way (undoubtedly another key adage of the story is that ‘with power comes responsibility’).

In any event, this book is a beautifully written, unsentimental fiction, which transports the reader to a pre-industrial Wessex, by no means a bucolic idyll, but rather a class-ridden, male-dominated site of incessant struggle. Nevertheless, the characters are masterfully constructed and Hardy manages to marshal the reader’s emotions from outrage and anger through to triumph and pity, as the label of ‘victim’ seems to alight, at different times, across the cast of characters. A thoroughly absorbing read.

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review 2017-02-20 13:51
Distracting the Duke
Distracting the Duke (Wayward in Wessex #1) - Elizabeth Keysian

'Distracting the Duke' by Elizabeth Keysian is book One in the "Wayward in Wessex" series.  This is  the story of Marcus and Clara.   This was my first book by Ms. Keysian and I must say I truly enjoyed it.  I will be looking for more of her books!
Clara is a widow who had a very bad marriage that left her somewhat traumatized.  But she is trying to help her brother and their ward with the season and finding a husband.  Marcus is a Duke that is out to find a "brainless, biddable beauty to bear his children".   Marcus at first is thinking that Clara's ward might be the wife for him and tries to get to know her better.  But Clara is being a distraction to him.  Some of his first interaction with her was seeing her with a turban on her head and looking like someone in her thirties.  But after a humorist run in he starts to see that she is younger than that and it pretty.  But both have their funny bickering and still have certain thoughts about how each ones attitude is.  But the more they interact the more they start to see how wrong they are about the other.    Both in their past have been abused in one way or another...their attraction to each other just keeps growing.   This was one book I could not put down and enjoyed it so much!  It does take you through laughing, crying and hope that they will overcome their their sad past. "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."

Source: www.amazon.com/Distracting-Wayward-Wessex-Elizabeth-Keysian-ebook/dp/B01NC095P0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1487369624&sr=1-1&keywords=distracting+the+duke
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review 2017-02-17 00:00
Distracting the Duke (Wayward in Wessex #1)
Distracting the Duke (Wayward in Wessex #1) - Elizabeth Keysian ARC Review: Distracting The Duke (Wayward In Wessex) by Elizabeth Keysian

The Lady and the Duke are like fire and ice. THEY DON'T MIX. He wants even tempered and sweet. She is volatile and opinionated. She wants to make her own choices and live a life beyond the control of a man. He wants a woman unlike her. Or does he? Distracting the Duke is a tale of passion that merges a battle of wills with a meeting of minds and ultimately the stealing of hearts. Mine included.
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review 2017-02-07 00:00
Distracting the Duke (Wayward in Wessex #1)
Distracting the Duke (Wayward in Wessex #1) - Elizabeth Keysian I loved it! Duke of Ulvercombe and Lady Clara both are amazing characters, and perfect for each other. Marcus is looking for a wife who is agreeable, biddable, and easy to talk to. Clara is a Lady who is very opinionated and have a hard time keeping her opinions to herself. She is straightforward and outspoken. There is no way they can ever like each other. They tend to be an annoyance to one another and their interactions often end in disagreements and arguments. Still for some reason they seem to crave each other's company. Soon they both realize that regardless of their mutual dislike, they are attracted to each other. Unfortunately there is no solution for their dilemma. The Duke must marry and he is not willing to marry someone he doesn't like. And Clara does not want to marry again, she will never trust another man for as long as she lives. Therefore, they have no future together and thus they must let themselves to have their futures separate from one another. But will it be that easy? Can they both find happiness and end up with what they want most? Or should they just let go of their respective pasts and be happy together?
It's a very well written novel. I couldn't put it down once I started reading and read the whole thing in one sitting. I quite enjoyed the story, as well as Marcus and Clara's banters. Their constant bickering was quite entertaining. I found it full of hunour, romance, and lots of fun. Definitely a must read for all historical romance readers. :)
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review 2017-01-13 00:00
Wessex Tales
Wessex Tales - Thomas Hardy Well, that was depressing. But totally worth it because experiencing the work of a master is pure pleasure. So I thank Thomas Hardy for bringing us these tales of lives brought to ruin and waste because of bad decisions.
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