All entries for January 2005

January 06, 2005

The Mayor of Casterbridge

4 out of 5 stars

I saw this book in the bookshop and thought that it looked quite interesting. The premise was somewhat unusual. Michael Henchard sells his wife and daughter to someone else whilst heavily inebriated. A few years later, he is the Mayor of Casterbridge (hence the title) when his wife and daughter return to him.

The book is wonderfully written, with lots of descriptive imagery, which, even towards the end of the book, does not get repetitive or boring. Many details are left for the reader to imagine for himself, whilst others are explained intricately.

The plot is extraordinary. Beginning with the premise described above, the book manages to convey the account of a man, who made a fatal mistake in his youth and how that mistake comes to haunt him later in life. One thing I found myself asking throughout Henchard's ordeal was, how life would have been different for him, had he not sold his wife and child.
The story manages to twist and turn again and again, throwing ever more problems at Henchard and every single one breaks him a little bit more. He's a man of conviction and emotion, which makes him unpredictable in the least.

Though the book focusses on Henchard's plight, it's not simply a narrative of his life, but rather manages to incorporate the story into a fascinating description of life in Casterbridge at the time of Thomas Hardy.

An excellent book that manages to surprise, delivered in a superb narrative.

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