The story delicately balances the concerns of the Mellstock parish choir with a romance between Dick Dewy, a member of the choir, and Fancy Day, the village schoolmistress. While the choir battles for its survival against the new vicar's mechanical church organ, personal conflicts arise over the anachronistic customs of tradition.
"It bubbles with good humor and joy in living." (James Gibson, Thomas Hardy: A Literary Life)
A charming novel set in the Yorkshire countryside, devoid of the usual darkness typical of other Hardy novels, such as Jude the Obscure, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Far from the Madding Crowd, and others. As always, his characters are well rounded, displaying very human flaws that make them all the more endearing. Fancy Day, despite her love for Dick Dewey, can't resist flattery and a chance to show herself off; Dick himself has a bit of a jealous streak. But overall, Hardy creates that wonderful sense of community and slower-paced days that we seem to long for in our times.
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