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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

Oh Thomas,
Read June 2014

We were doing so well, you and I. I was thinking of reading your poetry and planning Far from the Madding Crowd as my next big read. And then came along The Trumpet-Major. It started well, although a bit mellow for you, but then turned into what felt like (but was not act...more

The Trumpet-Major is a novel by Thomas Hardy set during the time of the Napoleonic Wars and first published as a serial in Good Words from January to December 1880. It seems like a lot of books in the 1800's were published in serial form, I'm glad I wasn't there for it, I want to read my books al...more

"The Trumpet Major" is one of Thomas Hardy's less well known works, and if less social importance. It is a romance novel, nothing more, although complicated.
Hardy did not have much good opinion of the steadfastness of young men's hearts, and his young girls did not seem to know their own minds....more

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...more

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 whi...more

Anne Garland is quite possibly Hardy's least appealing heroine, which unfortunately makes this his least appealing novel. Status-conscious, shy, cold, boring beyond her years, with no apparent talents or hobbies, Anne finds herself the object of the affections of two working-class brothers as wel...more

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.

“Gratitude is not love, though I wanted to make it so for the time.”

A woman and three suitors, and Thomas Hardy. That sounds a lot like the frivolous Bathsheba Everdeene and her entourage in Far from the Madding Crowd, but, in fact, it seems to be quite a recurrent constellation in Thomas Hardy’s...more

Hardy has written enough books to keep me happy for years now - and there are still more for me to read, thank goodness! There is something about him - an earthiness, a darkness, that makes his stories (which are always about the complications of human relationships, and explorations of human cha...more

A good time at reading with the beautiful Anne Garland and the two brothers John and Bob Loveday, and many other minor characters (not always nice elsewhere), all in a beautiful English countryside at the time of the Napoleonic wars. A provincial idyll? Not only.

3 worthy stars.

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