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Under the Greenwood Tree

Thomas Hardy

Book Overview: 

This novel is subtitled The Mellstock Quire, A Rural Painting of the Dutch School. The Quire is the group of musicians who accompany the hymns at the local church and we follow the fortunes of one member, Dick Dewy, who falls in love with the new school mistress, Fancy Day. Another element of the book is the battle between the traditional musicians of the Quire and the local vicar, Parson Maybold, who installs a church organ. This battle illustrates the developing technology being introduced in the Victorian era and its threat to traditional country ways.

Recommended for fans of Nora Roberts, Susan Mallery, Danielle Steel and Sandra Brown.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The tunes they that morning essayed remained with him for years, apart from all others; also the text; also the appearance of the layer of dust upon the capitals of the piers; that the holly-bough in the chancel archway was hung a little out of the centre—all the ideas, in short, that creep into the mind when reason is only exercising its lowest activity through the eye.

By chance or by fate, another young man who attended Mellstock Church on that Christmas morning had towards the end of the service the same instinctive perception of an interesting presence, in the shape of the same bright maiden, though his emotion reached a far less developed stage.  And there was this difference, too, that the person in question was surprised at his condition, and sedulously endeavoured to reduce himself to his normal state of mind.  He was the young vicar, Mr. Maybold.

The music on Christmas mornings was frequently below the standard of church-performanc. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I love Tess of the D'Urbervilles for its scenery, but this book was ten times more enjoyable to me because it's still got good scenery; it's written about a group of rustic, drunk church musicians; and it's happy. Now of course Hardy couldn't end the book without making us question whether they'll stay happy, but I'll...more

I've come to accept that I'm the only person of my generation with whom I am personally acquainted that likes Thomas Hardy. It's fine. It's astonishing and amazing to me, but fine. This particular sort of isolation has it's perks, though; I like to think that Tom and I are buddies - you know, sor...more

An optimistic Thomas Hardy novel? Is there such a thing?? Published the same month Hardy turned 32, this is, at least as far as I’ve read, the cheeriest of his works — that alone should be a selling point! In some ways it’s an exploration of the changes he saw enveloping England, played out in th...more

Hardy’s third novel is about a string band that gets replaced by a sexy female organist. After that, about how the sexy female organist is pursued by three suitors and she chooses the poor, handsome one. How do students write theses on this shit? I have two ornamental degrees and I can’t think up...more

Thank you Duane!!!!

Sweet love story....
Great atmosphere....
Gorgeous writing.....
Enjoyed it and look forward to reading Thomas Hardy again!

This is Hardy’s second novel and the first to feature his “realistic dream” setting of Wessex, which includes the fictional town of Casterbridge, in reality known as Dorchester and located in the south of England.

Under the Greenwood Tree is a romantic novel with a common working class...more

Reading this book was like seeing childhood photos of a good friend. I recognized Hardy's minute attention to the natural world, the way the seasons move through the countryside, and his ability to capture a person's movements and individuality so that I feel like I could draw his portrait myself...more

Under the Greenwood Tree or the Mellstock Quire (which was the first given title to the book) is the first successful prose writing by Thomas Hardy. Having failed at publishing as a poet, Hardy reluctantly turned into prose writing without much hope of being published. However, the book was not o...more

(2.5) Between college and grad school I read Hardy’s five major novels, but it’s probably been 10 years or more since I tried a new one. Far from the Madding Crowd is one of my favorite books of all time, so I couldn’t help but compare Under the Greenwood Tree* to it – unfavorably, alas – as I was reading.

If you're looking for an enjoyable and relatively quick summer read, I highly recommend Thomas Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree or The Mellstock Quire: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School. This delightful little novel is one of the more bucolic and pastoral novels I've read in some time, and depicts th...more

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