life sucks and then you die Part Deux, only in England this time. At least the change of scenery is nice.
Jude "the Obscure" Fawley is an orphan (of course he is) with Big Dreams. He wants to be a scholar and has his mind fixed on reaching the place of Holy Knowledge, nearby Christminster. But life happens when you're making other plans. Jude finds himself with an unwanted wife. Don't feel too sorry for her, the old ball chain is quite a piece of work. How she got him to marry her is nasty business. Once she catches Jude, she finds he isn't what she imagined him to be and she sails off to Australia. So long sucker!
At this point, Jude does the happy dance and heads off to the promised land of Christminster. There he has the misfortune of meeting his tantalizing cousin Sue. Things are looking up for Jude, right? Riiiiiight?! Oh no, it's Hey Jude, he can't Get No Satisfaction. He just Ramble(s) On, because Yesterday all his troubles seemed so far away. And then finally he learns, If You Can't Be With the One You Love (honey), Love the One You're With.
Good Gravy, I thought Edith Wharton did bad things to her characters. I take it all back! Hardy is brutal. You can't even imagine what happens to Jude in this book.
Jude. Judy, Judy, Judy. He just sort of sails along. He really needed to be more forceful and take control of his destiny. He had lots of plans but for some reason or another *ahem, women* they didn't happen. What Hardy seems to say is that it's impossible to be unconventional in that stifling environment.
The women don't come off very well either. I can't decide who is worse: Arabella, who is self-serving or Sue who is neurotic. At least, Arabella is a survivor. I could admire her somewhat, even if she'd run over her granny to have her own way. Sue tries hard to have modern ideas but doesn't have the backbone to follow through.
I'm not sure how I feel about Jude the Obscure. The writing was beautiful but it was so angsty. And tragic. Ugh.
After the last 2 books, I need someone to "take me to the kittens."
Would I recommend it? If you like beautiful writing, but be prepared for some awful scenes.