10 March, 2018


Title: A Pair of Blue Eyes
Author:  Thomas Hardy
Series: -
Genres: Classics, Romance
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release: 1873
Source: Audiobook
Pages: 374

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Elfride Swancourt is the daughter of the Rector of Endelstow, a remote sea-swept parish in Corwall based on St Juliot, where Hardy began A Pair of Blue Eyes during the beginning of his courtship of his first wife, Emma. Blue-eyed and high-spirited, Elfride has little experience of the world beyond, and becomes entangled with two men: the boyish architect, Stephen Smith, and the older literary man, Henry Knight. The former friends become rivals, and Elfride faces an agonizing choice.
Written at a crucial time in Hardy's life, A Pair of Blue Eyes expresses more directly than any of his novels the events and social forces that made him the writer he was. Elfride's dilemma mirrors the difficult decision Hardy himself had to make with this novel: to pursue the profession of architecture, where he was established, or literature, where he had yet to make his name. This updated edition contains a new introduction, bibliography, and chronology.


EXPECTATIONS: Another book Martyna and I picked for Classics Buddy Read. Must say after Tess I was not sure what to expect. I mean I loved Tess but I learned hard way that not all books are equally good so in the end I decided to go with medium expectations mainly because this book seems to be one of the least popular of Thomas Hardy.

THE WORLD: Second part of XIX century I believe. Thomas Hardy wrote about his own time and the book was released in 1873 so I think it is also set around this time. I actually read that Hardy's first novel was not accepted for publishing and one of his friends told him that it was too critical and might ruin his career as a writer so Hardy instead put bits of his first novel in his other books and I am starting to see the connection after reading A Pair of Blue Eyes and Tess of d'Urbervilles. Anyways, we are in times when main goal of all girls was to find a good husband and this is the main topic that Hardy discussed in this book too. Now where Tess was done from a perspective of working class rather poor woman, Pair of Blue Eyes is actually told from a perspective of a young girl who comes from rather wealthy family. 

CHARACTERS: Elfride Swancourt is our main character and we meet her at age of 18 I believe. It is mentioned from page one that even she is a grown woman she is extremely naive and has manners of 15 years old. It mainly comes from a fact that she is raised by her father I think, I do not remember what happened to her mother but she was not in the picture. First of all before we get into character analysis I must mention that I was really surprised by the pick of the name. I have never met anybody named Elfride and I grew to love the name through this book. Now Elfride herself. So for majority of the book I was actually not a fan at all, she was so simple minded and naive it was getting annoying. However, now that I have slept on it I must say my opinion has changed. I totally see what Hardy wanted to say in this book, or okay what I think he wanted to say. Yes Elfride is extremely naive and has no idea whatsoever how things work so she ends up following her heart rather than living by society rules. Women at that time were considered horrible if they allow men to kiss them and falling in love and acting upon it was thought as complete disgrace. It was really the times where women had no voice and were expected to act as they are told. They were a pretty toy to a man rather than a human being, tbh. So when Elfride falls in love with a farmer boy she is naturally told off by her father and eventually has to submit to his will and pretend she forgot the boy. And later when she falls in love with a gentleman he suddenly changes his mind about marrying her simply because once she already loved somebody. I mean there is this whole big scene where this gentleman is interrogating her and it really felt like what today would happen when somebody cheated. I was truly so sad for Elfride....

ROMANCE: As I already mentioned this book is all about falling in love and following your heart rather than obeying society rules. It is a crime for a woman to act as human being capable of desire and love. I think what Thomas Hardy did in this book, the way he criticized the view of woman in his time...it was absolutely brilliant. 

GOOD: The scenes of feelings. There are many parts in the book where it has long dialogues dealing with feelings, the major one being the interrogation of Elfride. I think they were so powerful and so well written, I mean majority of dialogues you cannot even say are taking place 200 years ago, like the interrogation scene, if you told me a woman has cheated on her husband today and he is interrogating her and show me this dialogue I would totally believe it. It just once again proves that Thomas Hardy was a genius. 

BAD: It really takes time for this book to work its charm on you. I literary finished it last night and was like okay well that was...alright. But now that I have slept on it and am writing a review I totally think it was just a great read! 

OVERALL: As I just mentioned I initially gave this book only 3 stars. I felt like it was much weaker than Tess and in general just a bit meh. But now...now I really love it and gladly adjust my rating to 4 stars. It was very different from Tess but I somehow think it is just as powerful. So yeah, def recommend. Also I am starting to form an opinion of Thomas Hardy, the way he thought and saw things and I am really liking it...


EXPECTATIONS: Hannah and I picked this one as our February buddy read. My expectations were very high since I adored Tess and Far From Madding Crowd. So I expected this love story that will once again break my heart to pieces and make me stay up all night of thinking what will happen next and ow can this possibly be happening and just big big emotions. I unfortunately did not have many of these emotions, however, I still enjoyed the book.

THE WORLD: The book takes place sometime in 19th century, cause we get to see the Victorian era rather well, from the houses and their appearance and behavior and such. So we are back once again in the same era and the same surrounding where men rule the world and women are left behind to slowly vanish. There they are not allowed to explore the world and be their own master.

CHARACTERS: Our main character is Elfride Swancourt. She is a young girl living with her father, and I have to see its rather visible that she has been raised without a mother figure since she is kind of unaware of the female duties in the house or their responsibilities. I liked that about her. She reminded me a lot of Bathsheba in this sense. Elfride was very naive I would say. A pure soul surrounded by wolves. I dunno I think I liked Elfride, she was this free naive pure creature, who simply needed just a little guidance, a little believe in herself. I mean it makes me sad that women were put into these horrible positions, where they didn't have any other choice and their fate was determined by either their parents or men who picked them. Elfride, was a unique gentle flower, that no one knew how to take care of.

To this day, I think Mr. Oak is the only male character written by Hardy, that I like. In this book we had two love interests Stephen and Henry and I just cannot deal with them at all. I think I liked Stephen maybe a little more, just because he didn't put Elfride through such pain, or at least such shame. Henry - oh boy! I did not like or care for him. His actions were unreasonable and he had no faith in the woman he presumably loved. I just cannot!

I didn't like the parents either. Simple minded people.

ROMANCE: We have a love triangle in this book, and I love a good love triangle. In all honesty I don't even think this was a real love triangle since Elfride and Stephen had a connection that was more than love I think. I think they were simply two souls that found each other at the right time. Henry I believe was the real love interest. I mean love in this book is portrayed very differently: it's not with butterflies or rainbows. Hardy shows the reader that you can love someone but if society says it's wrong the man will always choose society over a woman. It pains my heart to know that such time existed. 

GOOD: The ending was good. I did expect something like it, knowing that this is Hardy, but I still cried a little. It was a good ending. Also the entire feeling. Lately, I like when a book shows me how the character is falling in love, or how he is feeling. This was a very 'I feel this way' kind of book, and I liked it. Also it has some very beautiful quotes:

'Every woman who makes a permanent impression on a man is afterwards recalled to his mind's eye as she appeared in one particular scene, which seems ordained to be her special medium of manifestation throughout all the pages of his memory'

'How would you draw the line between women with something and women with nothing in them'

BAD: It took me awhile to get into the book.

OVERALL: I have to say Hardy was a brilliant author. I mean his books are fantastic and so real you know? There are nothing fake, no Hollywood happy endings. These are real books about real people who lived in a time when things were not as great and grand as television shows us. Times, when you were placed in a frame of society and anything different was not acceptable. I applaud Hardy for his writing, a truly brilliant writer.


 What do you think about A PAIR OF BLUE EYES?


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