The Trumpet-Major

by Thomas Hardy

This was the book chosen for me to read for the Classics Club Spin #28, and I really enjoyed it. I read all the best-known Thomas Hardy books in my teens, and it is many years since I have reread any, so I was delighted to find this one at a charity shop, and to add it to my Classics Club list. I have managed to read quite a few from my list this year, and this book represents #32 of the 50 I have pledged to read before August 2024, so I am well on track!

The Trumpet-Major is one of several main characters in this novel, set during the Napoleonic period, when the locals of a small coastal village are worried about invasion. The story revolves around a young woman who is the love interest of 3 young men, only one of whom actually deserves her, but of course she falls for the charmer. One of the men is completely odious, but the girl’s mother prefers him because he is likely to come into money, whereas the other two (brothers) are poor miller’s sons. As always with classics, it is interesting (though depressing) to read about social behaviour that was apparently acceptable at that time – in this case stalking and assault that the man apparently thought would win him the love of a girl who was clearly unwilling.

The thing that I really enjoyed about this book was the humour – Hardy is such a clever writer and his descriptions of the characters and their behaviours were so relatable to people we might know today, despite the very different social climate, and I often found myself smiling. Hardy is not known for his humour – in fact I think of his books as generally depressing – so I am keen to reread some as I am sure I was not as aware of the quality of his writing when I read the books many years ago. This was a good find.

2 thoughts on “The Trumpet-Major”

  1. I haven’t heard of this one by Hardy, so this was a fun review to read. I loved his books in high school and have reread some of them. I’m going to put this one on my TBR list.


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