This classic book is one of Thomas Hardy’s well-known novels. Based upon romance, this story provides much suspense throughout and keeps the reader captive with every page. The relevance of the greenwood tree is via the changes in season, implying change to the novel and its characters.
The novel begins in the small ,rustic village of Mellstock, home to many rich and poor people. Dick Dewey, the main character, is a poor young man who works in the family business of making cider and is a part of the choir at the local church.
Beginning on the night of Christmas Eve, gossip is being spread about the new Miss Fancy Day, who recently arrived to take on the new role of schoolmistress. The readers immediately learn of Miss Day’s social status and education. Dick and the choir travel through the village singing carols, spreading the Christmas cheer. However when they reach Fancy Day’s house she watches them from her window. Dick is unable to take his eyes off her, exclaiming “ How pretty!” They remain in a trance, continuing to stare at one another. Immediately, romance begins to arise.
This story, like many of Thomas Hardy’s novels, including Tess of the d’Urbervilles, has its complications and interferences not allowing events to run as smoothly as would be preferred. This is shown fairly soon in the book, when Mr Shiner and Mr Maybold are introduced to the young Miss Day. It becomes quite clear that Fancy is wrapped up in a love quadrangle, with three men competing for her affection. Throughout, Miss Day’s decisions are veiled; readers are made to keep guessing, keeping constant interest in events. Eventually, she does in fact reveal the man whom she desires; however they have huge differences, therefore allowing social status, wealth and parental opinions to become a problem. Throughout the novel it is unclear who Fancy will eventually be with. She develops different types of affection for each man and receives offers of marriage. However the suspense carries on and a long wait is used before knowing her response. The author is able to develop a captivating story where you are unable to figure out what will happen next. Miss Day finds herself in a dilemma: she may either marry into wealth and social status or into travelling and further cultural education or she can marry for passion and love, forgetting wealth and social reputations.
The language and style of this novel are quite interesting. A combination of both an educated and local folk style language is used, proving the difference in social status between the two and also indicating the importance of reputations. The style of this novel is slightly different to others of Mr Hardy; it focuses on the change of seasons, dividing the novel into four seasonal breaks.
This novel deservedly earns five stars purely because of its captivating storyline. I especially love the references made to the Greenwood tree, keeping the title relevant to the text but in a very subtle manner.