book review: The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy

What I love about Hardy’s classic is that you end up accidentally gaining knowledge on woodsmanship activities through reading the romantic fiction, set in ‘Little Hintock’ hundreds of years ago.

We meet Marty South making ‘spar gads’ for thatching, by smoky candlelight; we witness Melbury’s wood yard where waggons are laden with ‘ash-poles, sheep hurdles and cribs, faggots,’, we are taken to a wood auction by cider presser Giles Winterbourne  where yeomen bid with walking staffs corkscrew – twisted by ivy….

I especially like the reference to ‘ an alarum made of a candle and a piece of thread with a stone attached’, which appeals to those like me, with an Amish streak who dislike the modern shrills and beeps of todays digital alarms!  Great story, atmosphere and characters and you learn a lot about life in those days too, especially if youre into wood crafts.  Diving deep into the soul of nature and the soul of man, The Woodlanders leaves you with an ache inside you for a world and an innocence that has been lost.


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