Under the Greenwood Tree

james murraySometimes I love living in The Future. The other day I fancied reading some Thomas Hardy (Thomas Hardy and Stephen King are my go-to authors who never fail me. Apart from The Tommyknockers and Gerald’s Game, in the case of Mr King). In Ye Olden Days this would have meant schlepping to the library or my local branch of Waterstones, neither of which would have been open anyway because it was 7.30 on a Sunday morning.

No such problems with my Kindle. For less than £2 I was soon the proud owner of the Delphi Complete Works of Thomas Hardy (Illustrated). I was warned it would take a long time to download – it took about five seconds. Ten seconds later I was reading Under The Greenwood Tree.

It’s brilliant. It just makes me smile. Like this little extract after Dick Dewy has just set eyes on his one true love, Fancy Day (those names…).

Tilted on the edge of one foot he stood beside the fireplace, watching his mother grilling rashers; but there was nothing in grilling, he thought, unless the Vision grilled. The limp rasher hung down between the bars of the gridiron like a cat in a child’s arms; but there was nothing in similes, unless She uttered them.

How glorious is that? He comes up with an apt and brilliant simile for a rasher of bacon on a grill, but it’s also a gentle dig at Dick and the way Fancy has made him all, well, fanciful.

He also has a winning way with character descriptions. I’ve hardly read a more perfect description in my life than

Mr Shiner, age about thirty-five, farmer and church-warden, a character principally composed of a crimson stare, vigorous breath, and a watch-chain, with a mouth hanging on a dark smile but never smiling

Last but not least, reading UtGT is a good excuse/reason to illustrate this blog with a picture of the beautiful James Murray, who played Dick Dewy in a BBC version of the story. Thanks to the miracle of Living In The Future, you can watch it right now on YouTube here (possibly only in UK… not sure).




2 Replies to “Under the Greenwood Tree”

  1. You’ve actually made me want to pick up my copy that is resting dusty in the bookshelf… Time I dusted it off I think.

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