Under the Greenwood Tree: Or the Mellstock Quire: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School
Goodreads Rating: 3.68
Publisher: Penguin Books
Probably the best-loved, and certainly the happiest, of all Hardy's novels, Under the Greenwood Tree formed the foundation of his career as a writer and inaugurated the great series of Wessex novels.
The Mellstock rustics - among whom the romance of Dick Dewy is played out - provide some of Hardy's most memorable characters: from Leaf the simpleton to gamekeeper Day with his eloquent silences, to the singular Mrs Day - 'She d'belong to that class of womankind that become second wives; a rum class rather.'
The evocative power of this minor masterpieces derives from its being a vivid and authentic recreation of Hardy's own childhood environment. He modelled the villagers on people he had known intimately and their talk, full of observation and humour, is a constant delight.