So tomorrow I am heading to the Jurassic coast and the Hardy country.
During my studies, I must have come across one or two extracts of Hardy's books, but strangely, I have never read any of his novels.
Something puts me off about "Tess of the D'Ubervilles", as the story feels too much like "poor woman victim of bastard rich men" type of thing, which I am not a bit fan of. I would probably start with "Jude The Obscure", and then try and read Tess... I am hoping to go and see the writer's houses in and around Dorchester.
I will also be going to Lyme Regis. I read Tracy Chevalier's "Remarkable Creatures" a few months ago. If this is not my favourite novel by Ms Chevalier (I loved "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and adored the movie inspired by the novel, but my favourite is by far the wonderful "Burning Bright") but the story is amazing.
A great in-depth interview with Tracy Chevalier: http://fictionwritersreview.com/interviews/many-voices-an-interview-with-tracy-chevalier
You can find more info about each novel here:
"Remarkable Creatures": http://www.tchevalier.com/remarkablecreatures/story/index.html
"In 1810, a sister and brother uncover the fossilized skull of an unknown animal in the cliffs on the south coast of England. With its long snout and prominent teeth, it might be a crocodile – except that it has a huge, bulbous eye. Remarkable Creatures is the story of Mary Anning, who has a talent for finding fossils, and whose discovery of ancient marine reptiles such as that ichthyosaur shakes the scientific community and leads to new ways of thinking about the creation of the world.
Working in an arena dominated by middle-class men, however, Mary finds herself out of step with her working-class background. In danger of being an outcast in her community, she takes solace in an unlikely friendship with Elizabeth Philpot, a prickly London spinster with her own passion for fossils.
The strong bond between Mary and Elizabeth sees them through struggles with poverty, rivalry and ostracism, as well as the physical dangers of their chosen obsession. It reminds us that friendship can outlast storms and landslides, anger and and jealousy."
"Burning Bright": http://www.tchevalier.com/burningbright/index.html
"Burning Bright follows the Kellaway family as they leave behind tragedy in rural Dorset and come to late 18th-century London. As they move in next door to the radical painter/poet William Blake, and take up work for a near-by circus impresario, the youngest family member gets to know a girl his age. Embodying opposite characteristics – Maggie Butterfield is a dark-haired, streetwise extrovert, Jem Kellaway a quiet blond introvert – the children form a strong bond while getting to know their unusual neighbor and his wife.
Set against the backdrop of a city nervous of the revolution gone sour across the Channel in France, Burning Bright explores the states of innocence and experience just as Blake takes on similar themes in his best-known poems, Songs of Innocence and of Experience."
"Girl with a Pearl Earring" : http://www.tchevalier.com/gwape/
One of the best-loved paintings in the world is a mystery. Who is the model and why has she been painted? What is she thinking as she stares out at us? Are her wide eyes and enigmatic half-smile innocent or seductive? And why is she wearing a pearl earring?
Girl With a Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a 16-year-old Dutch girl who becomes a maid in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Her calm and perceptive manner not only helps her in her household duties, but also attracts the painter's attention. Though different in upbringing, education and social standing, they have a similar way of looking at things. Vermeer slowly draws her into the world of his paintings - the still, luminous images of solitary women in domestic settings.
In contrast to her work in her master's studio, Griet must carve a place for herself in a chaotic Catholic household run by Vermeer's volatile wife Catharina, his shrewd mother-in-law Maria Thins, and their fiercely loyal maid Tanneke. Six children (and counting) fill out the household, dominated by six-year-old Cornelia, a mischievous girl who sees more than she should.
On the verge of womanhood, Griet also contends with the growing attentions both from a local butcher and from Vermeer's patron, the wealthy van Ruijven. And she has to find her way through this new and strange life outside the loving Protestant family she grew up in, now fragmented by accident and death.
As Griet becomes part of her master's work, their growing intimacy spreads disruption and jealousy within the ordered household and even - as the scandal seeps out - ripples in the world beyond.
I think therefore I write.
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