Author: Thomas Hardy
Goodreads Rating: 3.85
Publisher: Penguin Books
Passion and money, beauty and ambition, these are the opening themes in The Woodlanders, a novel revolving around a small village community coming to terms with a radically changing world.
Plain Marty South, a young country girl mature beyond her years, endures her love for Giles Winterbourne in silence. He works in partnership with George Melbury, the local timber-merchant and chief man of business in the area. Giles has deep unspoken feelings for Mr Melbury's daughter Grace who has been away at boarding school and now returns to Little Hintock an educated young woman with modern ideas. Giles belongs to a past she no longer wants to be a part of and she is soon attracted to the new, handsome young doctor in the village, Edred Fitzpiers. As they all follow their lonely course, their lives become inextricably intertwined.
First published in 1887, The Woodlanders, which in later years Hardy came to regard as his favourite story, reflects Hardy's own changing attitude to the past and recognition of the dawn of a modern, dramatically different age.