Jude the Obscure
Jude Fawley has dreams of becoming a scholar and parson at Christminister in late-19th century England. He starts going about with Arabella and they have to get married. Shortly thereafter she discovers she is not pregnant and leaves for Austrailia with her parents. Jude does not divorce her, and after a few years is able to go to Christminister to fulfill his dream.
There he meets his cousin Sue and falls in love. Once again, higher schooling is put to the side. Because he is still married, Sue only accepts friendship from Jude, marrying an older man instead. But Sue and Jude both have trouble with laws and conventions. They soon decide to live the life they want no matter what society says.
I had forgotten how much I can dislike a book and still say it is a wonderful novel. Jude and Sue are pitiful and stupid creatures. Hardy brings them to life in so many ways. This is a despondant book. What little happiness that is found is overshadowed by their own feelings and flouting of conventions. I can't count the number of times I wanted to shake Sue until her teeth rattled for being so wishy washy or stupid. Jude let himself go with however life buffeted him, and never did redeem himself.
This book scandalized England when it was first published in 1896. After reading it I understand why it did. The content would not now scandalize, but the characters are still pitiful. It's a wonderful character study on how people know what they want but cannot obtain their desires through their own actions.
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These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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