Of the four books by Thomas Hardy that I’ve read now, this is my least favorite. There were a lot of good points about it, sure. I liked that in the end, honesty won. I liked the statements it made about dishonesty, manipulation, and selfishness. It had a lot of good moral points.
On the other hand, the writing was less than brilliant for me. Much of the plot was overly predictable, and the characterization was very sloppy, especially for Henchard. He waffled so much and so often that at times I wondered if Hardy wasn’t quite sure exactly what to do with him, and that’s pretty out of the ordinary for Hardy. Characterization is one of the things I expect to be exceptional, if a little archetypal. It also didn’t help that while honesty won, that win didn’t happen without many hundreds of pages spent with dishonest characters first, which just grates on me personally.
Despite the negative points, though, I’m looking forward to discussing this one with my book club, and I’m hopeful that with some discussion and some distance from it, I’ll be able to look on it in a more positive light.