Desperate Remedies by Thomas Hardy, Fiction, Literary, Short Stories by Thomas Hardy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Desperate Remedies" is an unexpected romance story with an entirely different tone to Hardy's other works. To be sure, there is the traditional pastoral and romantic scenes of the rural countryside which is prevalent in Hardy's novels, but it is perfectly juxtaposed in this novel with the bustling- and almost sinful inhabitants of London.
Cytherea Gray, a young beautiful woman, suddenly faces unexpected hardships in her life and is forced to relocate to a smaller town with her brother, Owen. She hopes to retain an occupation to help her brother pay off their father's long-standing debts. She is hired on as hand-maiden for a great lady, Miss Aldclyffe, but a sudden discovery forces the two women to form an uncommon bond between them, a secret that is known to no one else but themselves. All this time, Cytherea coaxes and fondly relishes in her romantic attachment with a burgeoning architect, Edward Springrove. In time her secret love for Edward eventually comes out to her bosom friend, Miss Aldclyffe. She could have never imagined the world of troubles that would fall upon her shoulders once this secret is revealed. Edward's poverty already places him in a predicament, but the meddlesome hand of Miss Aldclyffe and the emergence of a handsome new rival, Mr. Manston, undeniably forces Edward to withhold his secret love from all participants, including Cytherea.
"Desperate Remedies" deals with issues of purity, love, justice and the desperation's of a man's heart to obtain his true object of desire. I specifically enjoyed the endless battle between the two rivals Mr. Edward Springrove and Mr. Manston. Both men had a profound passion for the fair maiden, Cytherea, but they went about it in different ways. Mr. Manston was a true villain in all respects. It was enjoyable to see the sheer levels of deceit and surreptitious actions that he conducted when pursuing his love interest, Cytherea. His actions were so stealth-like, it made the story feel more like a detective novel, especially when the reader had to make use of the subtle hints to determined the true guilt of Mr. Manston.
I particularly liked the heavy use of poetry in this novel. There were fragments where Hardy implemented his own verses, or included famous ones to encapsulate the character's current mode of thinking. The heavy use of imagery, specifically the details of the landscape where the farmers worked and roamed added a certain level of depth to the novel. I could see that Hardy's experience as an architect came in handy when detailing the daily lives of the young architects: Owen Graye and his friend Edward Springrove. I sense, though I have no obvious proof, that some segments of this novel are autobiographical. The scenes are so vivid, and especially the details of a young architect's struggle to procure a job in the rural English countryside, it made me think of Hardy's own experiences when he met his first wife, while working as a young, self-accomplished architect.
I suppose the only trifle I find with this novel is the descriptive headings of the day and times that certain events occurred. This novel was penned as a third-person romance story with a heavy narration that can only be described as a detective novel, so it makes sense why Hardy chose to break up the novel in dates and times. Yes, it was a little bothersome, but I totally understand Hardy's reading behind it. This is by far the best book I have read from this English author thus far, I look forward to reading the rest of his novels in the coming years.
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