Was Thomas Hardy a happy man? He seems indifferent to the characters I personally liked, so maybe he was indifferent to everything he embraced in human nature. At any rate, this was my first full-on Hardy, being the first book of his I'd started which didn't seep out moody and slow from the first thunderclap. I suspect that he often writes with excruciatingly painful realism about love trapped in triangles or some asymmetric geometry limited by gorse and geography. So I am giving every possible star to a lesser known Hardy, which earns every mark for realism but threatens to put me off pursuing the others.
Perhaps he was a feminist in a different age, but does his female character have to traipse over people's true feelings as baldly as his main character here?