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The Trumpet Major

Thomas Hardy

Book Overview: 

Our heroine, Anne Garland, lives quietly in a rural community deep in the English countryside. However, the arrival of several regiments preparing for an expected invasion brings color and chaos to the county. A graceful and charming young woman, Anne is pursued by three suitors: John Loveday, the trumpet-major in a British regiment, honest and loyal; his brother Robert, a merchant seaman and womanizer, and Festus Derriman, the cowardly son of the local squire. Set at the time of the Napoleonic wars, this is the author’s only historical novel, and unusually for Hardy’s stories, most of the characters live happily ever after.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . keeping a yard off on her right as precisely as if that measure had been fixed between them.  She had a great feeling of civility toward him this evening, and spoke again.  ‘I often hear your trumpeters blowing the calls.  They do it beautifully, I think.’

‘Pretty fair; they might do better,’ said he, as one too well-mannered to make much of an accomplishment in which he had a hand.

‘And you taught them how to do it?’

‘Yes, I taught them.’

‘It must require wonderful practice to get them into the way of beginning and finishing so exactly at one time.  It is like one throat doing it all.  How came you to be a trumpeter, Mr. Loveday?’

‘Well, I took to it naturally when I was a little boy,’ said he, betrayed into quite a gushing state by her delightful interest.  ‘I used to make trumpets of paper, eldersticks, eltrot stems, and ev. . . Read More

Community Reviews

*3.5 stars*

Not my favourite Hardy but an enjoyable story nonetheless.

Wessex in the time of the Napoleonic Wars. John Loveday loves Anne Garland. Festus Derriman wants to rape Anne Garland. Bob Loveday loves Matilda the stage strumpet (perhaps). Anne Garland loves Bob Loveday (perhaps). A howling farce ensues, a notable precursor to Benny Hill’s chase-me sexual-assaul

In the second collected edition of his novels, of 1912 (the “Wessex Edition”), Thomas Hardy divided his production into three groups: “novels of character and environment,” “romances and fantasies,” and “novels of ingenuity.” This proved a defining critical move where the reception of his novels was

Those who criticise this remarkable novel should really go back to school to find out why they are missing the point. It has never achieved the accolades that so many of Hardy's other novels have. Although I more than adequately could, I will not repeat the several other complimentary reviews which

Maybe even 4.5. I really enjoyed this Hardy - it has an interesting and clever mix of light and dark tone, and is set not in the Victorian times but during the Napoleon Wars, which adds an interesting historical dimension to the book as well. Hardy's writing is beautiful as ever.

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