Read Desperate Remedies by Thomas Hardy Online


Hardy described Desperate Remedies as a tale of 'mystery, entanglement, surprise and moral obliquity'.Cytherea has taken a position as lady's maid to the eccentric arch-intriguer Mis Aldclyffe. On discovering that the man she loves, Edward Springrove, is already engaged to his cousin, Cytherea comes under the influence of Miss Aldclyffe's fascinating, manipulative stewardHardy described Desperate Remedies as a tale of 'mystery, entanglement, surprise and moral obliquity'.Cytherea has taken a position as lady's maid to the eccentric arch-intriguer Mis Aldclyffe. On discovering that the man she loves, Edward Springrove, is already engaged to his cousin, Cytherea comes under the influence of Miss Aldclyffe's fascinating, manipulative steward Manston.Blackmail, murder and romance are among the ingredients of Hardy's first published novel, and in it he draws blithely on the 'sensation novel' perfected by Wilkie Collins. Several perceptive critics praised the author as a novelist with a future when Desperate Remedies appeared anonymously in 1871. In its depiciton of country life and insight into psychology and sexuality it already bears the unmistakable imprint of Hardy's genius....

Title : Desperate Remedies
Author :
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ISBN : 12615429
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 462 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Desperate Remedies Reviews

  • Katie Lumsden
    2019-05-22 07:04

    A brilliant, brilliant read - Hardy's usual strong characterisation and emotional impact, along with a wonderfully paced dramatic mystery. Great fun, powerful, so well written, with a wonderful cast. I flew through this, and it's currently rivalling Far From the Madding Crowd and Jude the Obscure for my favourite Hardy.

  • Issicratea
    2019-04-24 11:49

    As a lover of literary curiosities, how was I going to resist the spectacle of a young Thomas Hardy attempting a Wilkie Collins-style “sensation novel”? The idea is both incongruous and weirdly enticing; and the reality doesn’t fall too far short. That’s not to say that Desperate Remedies—Hardy’s first published novel (1871)—could entirely be called a success. The crime-detective element is distinctly half-baked, and Hardy is clearly just going through the motions on the level of plot. There is some beautiful writing in this novel, however; and some intriguingly off-beat characterization. It’s interesting to read as a prelude to his later, classic novels, but it’s also worthwhile in itself.Several themes that will recur in later Hardy novels may already be found here. Like Collins, Hardy is very interested in women who find themselves on the wrong side of Victorian sexual morality; and there are some striking female characters in this novel. The passionate, domineering Miss Aldclyffe was a figure unlike any other I have encountered in Victorian fiction; and it’s hard not to be struck by the extraordinary scene/s of same-sex attraction she triggers. I also liked the minor character of Anne Seaway, portrayed with considerable sympathy, despite her clearly “fallen” status. The novel’s protagonist, Cytherea Graye, also has her moments, and is far from a stereotypical virtuous love interest. Where the male figures are concerned, I have to tip my hat—or twirl my virtual moustache—to the sinister and sexually equivocal Aeneas Manston, who arrives in the novel half-way through, full of fine villainish promise. (There’s a fabulous scene where he attempts to seduce Cytherea during a storm—Hardy works his Virgilian subtext quite hard—by means of a sexy organ solo.) Manston never quite lives up to his potential, in my view, although he does get a farewell speech to die for (I am now about to pass into my normal condition …) Cytherea also gets a very good speech, earlier, as she is about to be sacrificed on the altar of social propriety:Perhaps, in time far to come, when I am dead and gone … they will pause for an instant and give a sigh to me and think ‘Poor girl’, believing that they do great justice to my memory by this. But they will never, never realize that it was my single opportunity of existence; … they will not feel that what to them is merely a thought, easily held in those two words of pity, ‘Poor girl’, was a whole life to me; as full of hours, minutes, and peculiar minutes, of hopes and dreads, smiles, whisperings, tears, as theirs; that it was my world, what is to them their world, and they in that life of mine, however much I cared for them, only as the thought I seem to them to be. Nobody can enter into another’s nature truly; that is what is so grievous.To which passionate existential outpouring, Cytherea’s brother Owen replies flatly, “Well, it cannot be helped.” I like this realism in Desperate Remedies, cutting against some of its more Gothic and melodramatic tendencies. As you would expect from Hardy, the sights and sounds of the novel’s rural setting are supremely well evoked. If anyone is tempted to try this novel, it may help you to know that the first half is greatly superior to the second (in my view, anyway.) Half-way through, I felt I was reading a lost masterpiece, but, by the end, I had toned down my judgment a little. If you start with the right expectations, you are less likely to be disappointed along the way.

  • Jane
    2019-04-27 07:01

    The idea of re-reading Thomas Hardy's work in order of publication floated in my head for quite some time; and now that I have made a start and re-visited his first published novel I think that it was a rather good idea.'Desperate Remedies' isn't his finest work but it is a good start, and a very readable story. Hardy wrote another novel before this one, but after it was rejected and now it is lost. He took advice; and it resulted in a book that is a curious mixture of Hardy and of certain other novelists who had found success some years before he did.Cytheria Graye was named after her father's great lost love; a young woman who had, quite explicably, sent him away and broke his heart. He built a career as an architect, some years later he married, and when his wife died he raised their two children, Cytheria and Owen, alone. He was a good man, but he made some poor decisions and he trusted some people who were not worthy of that trust, and when he died his children found that they had nothing.They made plans together. Owen would continue his training to become and architect, and his sister would go into service, just until his training was complete and he could support the household. Cytheria was beautiful, she was accomplished, and they thought that she would find a position easily. She didn't, and she had to lower her sights time and time again.Cytheria was downhearted, because she had fallen in love with her brother's friend, Edward Springrove; and he had fallen in love with her.One day, unexpectedly and inexplicably, Cytheria was offered a position much grander than she dared to hope for.She became lady's maid to the mercurial Miss Aldclyffe. She could be terribly imperious, but it was clear that she desperately want to be a mother to the girl, and and bring her up to be strong and not to be dependent on any man. There were definitely echoes of Miss Havisham .... When Cytheria learned that her employer shared her distinctive name, she realised that she must be her father's lost love.She realised that Miss Aldclyffe was troubled, and that she had secrets she was determined to keep.She couldn't understand why Miss Aldclyffe went to such lengths to secure a man named Aeneas Manston as her steward. Edward Springrove had applied, he was well qualified, he was a local man, and he had the support if the lady's solicitor; but Miss Aldclyffe disregarded that and insisted that she would have Manston, even though her solicitor told her that he was "a scoundrel of the first order"....Miss Aldclyffe tried to plant doubts about Edward in Cyrethia's mind; and to encourage a match with Manston. Cyrethia disliked Manston and was resolute in her love for Edward; but when his family faced a crisis and Owen was taken ill she found herself alone and trapped ....The story starts slowly but it accelerates and turns into a wonderful, page-turning sensation novel. There are wonderful twists and turns, there is much more to the plot than I have set out, and there were questions in my mind right to the end.There is a little too much melodrama; but not so much that it spoils the story.This may sound more like Wilkie Collins than Thomas Hardy - and yes, it is - but there is so much in this book that is Hardy. The descriptions are lyrical, country life is portrayed with real understanding, the set pieces are beautifully handled, and I saw themes and ideas in this book that he would develop in later works. Aeneas Manston was a magnificent villain, Edward Seagrove was a reliable, if slightly dull, hero, and Owen Graye had an interesting part to play.Cyrethia was a little unpredictable - sometimes brave and sometimes just the opposite - but I found it easy to like her, I could always empathise with her, and she carried me through the story. Hardy would go on to create stronger, more complex heroines, but Cyrethia was the right heroine for this book.I loved the story arc of Miss Aldclyffe. I didn't remember it and I didn't work it out, because I was far too caught up with the story to stop and think.Thomas Hardy wrote a good sensation novel; and it was lovely to read that story mixed with the things that Hardy did so well. That made it feel familiar and yet unlike any other book I've read. I'm glad though that he didn't continue down that route, and that he went on to do the other things he began to do well in this book even better as his writing career progressed.

  • Lobstergirl
    2019-04-25 11:45

    This is Hardy's first novel. For the first hundred pages or so it seems standard Hardy, but it quickly turns into a Wilkie Collinsesque potboiler (the Victorian "sensation novel") of not astoundingly high quality (it doesn't match The Woman in White, for instance). Unlike so much Hardy, there's a (view spoiler)[happy ending (hide spoiler)].I wouldn't recommend this edition (Oxford World's Classics). The footnotes/endnotes will seem overly obtrusive to most readers (who doesn't know that a "pallet" is "a straw mattress or bed"?), and they also reveal every last spoiler in the novel. Patricia Ingham's introduction, aside from not being particularly interesting, reveals not only every spoiler in the novel, but most spoilers from all of Hardy's other novels too.

  • Kim
    2019-05-23 11:47

    "Desperate Remedies" is a novel that was written by Thomas Hardy and published in three volumes in 1871. It was his first published novel. Hardy had completed his first novel "The Poor Man And The Lady" in 1868 but he was advised to either rewrite the novel, or" what would be much better...attempt a novel with a purely artistic purpose giving it a more complicated plot."The result wasDesperate Remedies.I enjoyed the novel although I still haven't decided whether I am giving it 3 or 4 stars, maybe I'll know by the end of the review.Hardy, when his formal education ended at the age of sixteen, became apprenticed to James Hicks, a local architect. Hardy trained as an architect in Dorchester before moving to London in 1862; there he enrolled as a student at King's College London. He won prizes from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architectural Association and Hardy was in charge of the excavation of the graveyard of St Pancras Old Church. Perhaps Hardy's background as an architect is the reason there are so many architects running around in this book.The main character in the story is Cytherea Graye, her father, Ambrose Graye is an architect. In fact he dies when he falls from the scaffolding set against a church spire that he was supervising the completion of, being the architect of the structure. Cytherea sees him fall to his death which was creepy. Her brother Owen is a young architect, or at least he is working his way to becoming one. The hero of our story is Edward Springrove. Owen meets Edward in the office where he works and it is through Owen that Edward and Cytherea meet. Why does Owen meet Edward in the office??? Because Edward is an......architect.In the first chapter of the book we have a young Ambrose Graye just beginning his life as an architect when he meets Cytherea Bradleigh, the daughter of a retired Navy officer . This Cytherea was "the most beautiful and queenly being he had ever beheld"and he was in love with her by the second page of the book, which happens often in novels. I am fairly certain that if I was in a novel it would take at least a few chapters of knowing a person before I was in love, but, then again, I'm not in a novel. She seems to enjoy being with him and her parents approve of him, so what could go wrong? After a few weeks he tells her how much he loves her and proposes at which time she answers "Ah-we must part now." and runs away later sending him a note telling him goodbye forever, something divides us eternally and she is gone from the scene. Do we find out what divides them eternally? Yes, but not until page 400 or so. Although if you read the book you'll probably figure it out before then.Ambrose goes on to marry and have two children, the before mentioned Owen and Cytherea (yes that's what he named her), his wife dies, we're not told why, and he is left with his two children. Now we jump ahead to where Ambrose goes up to check on the church spire and steps backward and now he's gone from the book too. Owen is a young man by now, and Cytherea is 18. We find that through unwise loans and speculations Owen and Cytherea have been left penniless. They leave their home and move to the town of Budmouth where Owen begins his work as an architect and Cytherea advertises in local papers for work as a governess, lady's maid or companion. While she waits for any replies to her advertisement she is introduced to Edward Springrove. Of course they fall in love probably within two pages of meeting but I can't quite remember. However, one day as they are out on a boat rowing around the bay Edward tells Cytherea he loves her, kisses her, everything seems fine; then he tells her that there is something she doesn't know, something he's kept from her, a great source of uneasiness. Cytherea begs him to explain but he won't and leaves the next day to advance his profession in London. And do we find out what his source of great uneasiness is? Yes, and rather soon.Cytherea receives a reply to her advertisement from a lady, Miss Aldclyffe of Knapwater House and takes a post as her lady's maid. She quickly becomes more than that though. Now there comes an extremely strange event on the very first night Cytherea is in the house that if it would have happened to me, there wouldn't be a second night in the house.A distinct woman's whisper came to her through the keyhole: 'Cytherea!' Only one being in the house knew her Christian name, and that was Miss Aldclyffe. Cytherea stepped out of bed, went to the door, and whispered back, 'Yes?' 'Let me come in, darling.' The young woman paused in a conflict between judgment and emotion. It was now mistress and maid no longer; woman and woman only. Yes; she must let her come in, poor thing. She got a light in an instant, opened the door, and raising her eyes and the candle, saw Miss Aldclyffe standing outside in her dressing-gown. 'Now you see that it is really myself; put out the light,' said the visitor. 'I want to stay here with you, Cythie. I came to ask you to come down into my bed, but it is snugger here. But remember that you are mistress in this room, and that I have no business here, and that you may send me away if you choose. Shall I go?' 'O no; you shan't indeed if you don't want to,' said Cythie generously. The instant they were in bed Miss Aldclyffe freed herself from the last remnant of restraint. She flung her arms round the young girl, and pressed her gently to her heart. I don't understand this woman at all. She just met Cytherea that day, she comes to her room, she stays and insists on hearing her say her prayers, keeps her there with her for months after this and as a companion not as a lady's maid after this first day. The only explanation possible I came up with is that these two women had discovered a few hours before this that Miss Aldclyffe was Miss "Cytherea" Aldclyffe, she was the woman Cytherea's father had once loved. So I think that perhaps realizing this young Cytherea is the daughter of her long ago lover she develops that fondness for her. I puzzle for awhile how this woman, who at the beginning of the novel is Cytherea Bradleigh is now Cytherea Aldclyffe without ever being married but there is this explanation:'Has Miss Aldclyffe's family always been rich?' said Cytherea. 'O no. The property, with the name, came from her mother's uncle. Her family is a branch of the old Aldclyffe family on the maternal side. Her mother married a Bradleigh—a mere nobody at that time—and was on that account cut by her relations. But very singularly the other branch of the family died out one by one—three of them, and Miss Aldclyffe's great-uncle then left all his property, including this estate, to Captain Bradleigh and his wife—Miss Aldclyffe's father and mother—on condition that they took the old family name as well. There's all about it in the "Landed Gentry." 'Tis a thing very often done.' The housekeeper tells Cytherea that Farmer Springrove, the cider-maker, and innkeeper of the Three Tranters Inn and Edward's father, is the one who recommended her for the position as a lady's maid. Cytherea realizes it was all Edward's doing. However, it is puzzling to me because that means everyone in the area knows Edward and everyone in the area knows what his secret is that he wouldn't tell Cytherea. So why didn't he just tell her in the first place? Surely he had to know she would find out almost immediately which is exactly what happens and here is the big secret:'Mean? Why that all the world knows him to be engaged to be married, and that the wedding is soon to take place.' She made the remark bluntly and superciliously, as if to obtain absolution at the hands of her family pride for the weak confidences of the night. But even the frigidity of Miss Aldclyffe's morning mood was overcome by the look of sick and blank despair which the carelessly uttered words had produced upon Cytherea's face. She sank back into a chair, and buried her face in her hands............'You were too easily won. I'd have made him or anybody else speak out before he should have kissed my face for his pleasure. But you are one of those precipitantly fond things who are yearning to throw away their hearts upon the first worthless fellow who says good-morning. In the first place, you shouldn't have loved him so quickly: in the next, if you must have loved him off-hand, you should have concealed it. It tickled his vanity: "By Jove, that girl's in love with me already!" he thought.' So poor Cytherea does the right thing, writing Edward a letter telling him she can no longer see him and he should do the honourable thing and marry his fiance, who she had met by that time. If only Edward had done the right thing, which would have been just about anything else except what he did, he may have still had Cytherea the woman he really loved. Meanwhile Miss Aldcyffe has decided to hire a steward. Although she goes through the motions of finding the best man for the position; contacting her lawyer, advertising the position, carefully going through responses, she really only has one man in mind for the position and against the advise of her lawyer hires Aeneas Manston, an architect of course. Manston and Cytherea meet and he falls madly in love with her although she doesn't love him. However Manston seems to keep his distance from Cytherea even though Miss Aldclyffe seems to desperately want them to be together. He, however, has his own secret. Everyone does. His secret comes to light pretty quickly, it is a wife and she shows up at his door one day surprising everyone in the neighborhood who all thought he was single. Finding Manston away from home and the door locked Mrs. Manston goes to the inn and takes a room for the night. That night the inn catches fire and burns to the ground taking poor Mrs. Manston with it, or did it?This is the fun part. Did Mrs. Manston die in a tragic but accidental fire? It seems that way at first, Manston seems genuinely shocked when he finds she is dead. Miss Aldclyffe is elated and starts pushing for a marriage between Cytherea and Manston immediately. Edward is suspicious, therefore we are suspicious. Was the fire accidental? Was Manston truly shocked or did he already know of the fire when they went to tell him. Did he hate her enough to kill her? Did Miss Aldclyff hate her enough to kill her? Is she even dead? I'm not telling. Read the book. I've decided on four stars even though the second half wasn't as enjoyable as the first. I'll re-read it someday.

  • Rose A
    2019-05-07 11:13

    I probably wouldn't even have heard of Desperate Remedies if I hadn't got it out of the library to listen to in the car. I'm glad I found it, however, for this was a really interesting novel and an entertaining and surprising one. The blurb led me to expect something mediocre - Hardy's first novel, hints of greatness, ultimately flawed etc. I'm partial to these lesser known works and this did not disappoint. It's not so polished, true, and it was uneven in places in terms of pacing and structure (listening in bursts in the car really helped with this; I might have had less patience if I had been reading it), but there was a lot to like.In this novel, Hardy was trying to write a sensation novel in the style of Wilkie Collins with intrigue, murder, deception, power struggles and so on and it's a successful addition to the genre. To be fair, I worked out the big 'twist' from the very beginning but that didn't make the journey any less enjoyable. However, you can also find classic Hardy in the makings here - his sympathetic portrayals of women, his love of landscape, his Greek chorus of rustics, his major set-pieces and his interest in fate and coincidence. This novel surely has a place for for lovers of Hardy and his craft as well as the Victorian novel.A few more intriguing elements - hints of a lesbian affair or at least lesbian feeling, far more graphically depicted than I would have expected makes me want to read more about representation of sensuality between women in mainstream Victorian literature. Hardy's understanding of feeling and emotion is top notch and he draws some memorable characters with an excellent portrait of a very understandable (and therefore chilling) villain.Very well worth picking up!

  • Margaret
    2019-05-09 09:13

    Oh, this was quite strange, but worth reading. It was Hardy's first published novel, and it's most unlike his other books, an odd mishmash of romance and Gothic and sensation novel. When Cytherea Graye takes a position as lady's maid to eccentric, beautiful Miss Aldclyffe, she is drawn under the influence of the charismatic Manston, Miss Aldclyffe's steward, and entangled in a web of romantic and violent intrigue.It's overwritten (never a two-syllable word where a four-syllable one can be used instead), and the plot takes too long to get going, but it's oddly compelling and atmospheric anyway. It's full of quotations and allusions, which often weigh it down (like the multisyllabic vocabulary), but they're often used in an interestingly subversive fashion. There's an ongoing allusion to The Aeneid, for instance, but the character whose first name is Aeneas is far from noble or pious, and a former prostitute is compared to the virginal Camilla for the courage they bear in common.

  • Hilary G
    2019-05-23 07:52

    More than anything else, I found this book tiresome"How dare such creatures proffer tiresome trash,paid off by moneyed wretches like themselves,while humanity hungers, longing forrenaissance..."in particular the interjection of obscure bits of poetry and religious and classical references that I can scarcely believe meant any more to Mr Hardy's original readers than they do to me. These were to illustrate points and, I suspect, to demonstrate what a fantastically well read chap Hardy considered himself to be (and probably was). I started to collect them at first:the attitude of Imogen by the cave of BelariusLike Curius at his Sabine farm,Such a Cushi could not realize the possibility of such an unmoved David as this.His was the system of Dares at the Sicilian games—I even looked a couple up (what did they do in 1871 without Google?) but I got bored and tried to ignore them, though it was hard. To be sure, when the teacher asked the class to make up a sentence with "nullocultu" in it, young Tom Hardy's hand must have shot up.I didn't really get the point of all that "Events of…" business. Maybe it was supposed to be innovative but it didn't seem to add much value. So I ignored that too, and ploughed on with the tale of a girl with a name sounding like a sexually transmitted disease. I could see that Hardy had tried hard to vary the telling of the story by having different points of view, also telling it through direct conversation, hearsay, letters, but I thought he carried it a bit far by having the end of the story told through a group of country yokel bellringers, complete with almost unintelligible dialect. It was all a bit stiff. I mean, Edward Springrove obviously never read "100 best chat up lines" or he never would have used one like 'If I had known an Amaryllis was coming here, I should not have made arrangements for leaving..'. I've heard less stilted conversations between the Flowerpot Men and Little Weed than I read in this book.I thought the characters were bizarre. Surely Miss Aldclyffe would not have inspired such love in Graye senior if she was such an evil cow? Edward Springrove, the rogue who was affianced to one women yet dallied with another turns out to be a hero, while Manston, who acted pretty honourably towards Cyth. turns out to be a villain. I don't think this was really twists and turns of the plot so much as the characters just not making sense. I guess Hardy never majored in psychology?I think Hardy's views of women as demonstrated by this book are execrable and he is obviously a complete misogynist (was he gay?). Although he is not immune to men's favourite fantasy with a Fingersmith-like scene between Cyth senior and Cyth junior, his women are all stereotypes – dessiccated old spinster, scheming bitch, pathetic victim, gossip etc. The only one I had a sneaking regard for was Adelaide who, fed up with waiting for her faithless fiance, made off with a rich bloke. Young Cytherea was the absolute limit. More than half way through the book something (I forget what) was said to reduce her to mere passivity. Excuse me, but I thought she was pretty passive from the start. I thought this book was pretty desperate, but out of respect for the member of the book group that chose it, I did not indulge in the remedy of throwing it from a speeding car into a ditch but instead soldiered on to the end.Never did like Hardy, anyway!

  • John Frankham
    2019-05-11 07:04

    Having read most of Hardy's novels, and re-read them, this was my first reading of Desperate Remedies. A real surprise, and a real pleasure. A cross between later Hardy and Wilkie Collins. And some of the beautifully rhythmic prose reminded me of Jane Austen, oddly enough.So adventurous for its time.From a good Hardy web-site:'Desperate Remedies (1871) was Thomas Hardy’s first published novel. He wrote it following the disappointment of having his first work The Poor Man and the Lady rejected for publication by Chapman and Hall. To court commercial success he cast his second work in a genre that was very popular at that time – the sensation novel. These were tales which in the words of critic John Sutherland were ‘designed to jolt the reader’. They did this by the inclusion of topics considered very daring at that period – such as bigamy, sex outside marriage, fraud, disputed wills, and crime of all kinds.Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon had written amazingly successful novels which we might now class as ‘thrillers’ – The Woman in White (1861) and Lady Audley’s Secret (1861) both exploited subjects such as dark family secrets, bigamy, and imprisonment.Hardy was to have plenty of trouble with the censorship of his later and more famous novels, but even here in his first, he manages to include suicide, attempted rape, lesbianism, and murder.'

  • Amy
    2019-04-25 12:46

    Thomas Hardy’s first book was rejected by publishers because the plot went nowhere. The plot certainly went somewhere with his second book and first published novel, Desperate Remedies. Considering how many of Thomas Hardy’s novels were made into movies, I’m surprised that this one wasn’t. He’s built a very strong cast of characters. The heroine is strong and rational while the villain is dastardly indeed. The tale is one part mystery and one part love triangle. I’d even go as far as to call it gothic. This is the first time I’ve read anything by Hardy remotely approaching gothic, and I quite enjoyed it.After the untimely deaths of their parents, two young adults go out into the world together to try to fend for themselves. The brother tries to find a job related to his architectural studies while the sister, Cytherea, looks for a position as a lady’s maid. As fate would have it, Cytherea accepts a position in the home of a lady whose past is closely connected to that of Cytherea’s family.Two men vie for Cytherea’s attention, but she finds herself not trusting either of them. The first tries to kiss her in a row boat and the second creeps her out by drawing her into his house during a thunderstorm and playing his organ for her. No, this is not a euphemism. And, no, he doesn’t actually know how to play an organ (this sounds strangely like a bad date I once had). She eventually finds out both of these overly-forward guys have dirty secrets and feels justified in her contentment to stay single. I was quite happy to find that Cytherea has her head on straight enough to initially steer clear of these guys. She wisely heeds the advice that her father gives at the beginning of the book: “don't love too blindly: blindly you will love if you love at all, but a little care is still possible to a well-disciplined heart.” It’s too bad we can’t all learn from the mistakes of others as well as Cytherea has. “Scheme to marry? I'd rather scheme to die!” she says. Yet, she has her own lessons to learn.Unfortunately, because of her brother’s failing health, she eventually finds herself pressured to marry to avoid sending her brother to a county hospital. Oh the horror. I found it very infuriating that the brother insisted that his sister marry for money when he knew it would cause her a life of sadness simply because he didn’t want to take the chance he might lose a limb at the county hospital. I can’t imagine asking someone to sacrifice the happiness of their entire life for the sake of my limb. But that’s what brothers are for, right?The last part of the book is fast-paced as you try to determine if your suspicions are correct about the dark secrets various characters may be harboring. There are a few clues along the way. Unfortunately, I read one of the biggest secrets -- one that’s only revealed in the last few pages -- in a synopsis for this book somewhere online. In a way, it was interesting to read the book through that lens, but I would have rather not have had it spoiled for me. Still, that was not the most surprising of gothically delectable revelations.I think that my favorite quote in the book is from a man who is doomed to imminent death. He says, “I am now about to enter on my normal condition. For people are almost always in their graves. When we survey the long race of men, it is strange and still more strange to find that they are mainly dead men, who have scarcely ever been otherwise.” I can’t seem to forget this statement in the few days since I read it. It’s caused myself to marvel daily that I’m alive now in the whole history of the universe. That statement, like Carl Sagan’s “Cosmic Calendar”, reveals so much of how infinitesimal man’s existence is in the universe.Hardy has a way of taking situations and twisting them to the breaking point in his plots. His characters are interconnected in such deliciously complicated ways. But so much of it is bound up in the laws or in the societal expectations of the time. It’s like how we read a book from a couple of decades ago and think how everything would be far less complicated with a cell phone. With Hardy, everything would be far less complicated if the characters weren’t worried about what the Joneses thought or if they could easily get a divorce without social ostracism.One curious scene in the book appears to be homoerotic in nature. In general, Hardy’s later books expose the failings of Victorian cultural norms and the complications that they create for people. But this seems to be a different beast altogether. Either the scene is written innocently or its written as a bit of Victorian spite. I can’t seem to find anything on the subject other than that, when Queen Victoria was asked why there weren’t any laws against female homosexuality, she replied that women don’t do that sort of thing. So, was Hardy trying to say that they indeed did or was he really just writing an innocent scene? I would posit that it’s the former since he was made to change the scene in later editions to call the affections something akin to “motherly love”. I don’t buy it. If the Queen thinks that lesbianism doesn’t exist, you can write about it to your heart’s content with impunity.I can very well see how this book helped to launch Hardy’s future success. It’s a close second so far among the books of his I’ve read (my favorite so far being Two on a Tower). I highly suggest it for anyone interested in reading something by Hardy, especially if they like a book that’s more on the dark side.

  • Laura
    2019-04-27 12:51

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg.And the audio version is available at LibriVox.PREFATORY NOTE:The following story, the first published by the author, was written nineteen years ago, at a time when he was feeling his way to a method. The principles observed in its composition are, no doubt, too exclusively those in which mystery, entanglement, surprise, and moral obliquity are depended on for exciting interest; but some of the scenes, and at least one of the characters, have been deemed not unworthy of a little longer preservation; and as they could hardly be reproduced in a fragmentary form the novel is reissued complete—the more readily that it has for some considerable time been reprinted and widely circulated in America. January 1889.To the foregoing note I have only to add that, in the present edition of 'Desperate Remedies,' some Wessex towns and other places that are common to the scenes of several of these stories have been called for the first time by the names under which they appear elsewhere, for the satisfaction of any reader who may care for consistency in such matters.This is the only material change; for, as it happened that certain characteristics which provoked most discussion in my latest story were present in this my first—published in 1871, when there was no French name for them it has seemed best to let them stand unaltered.T.H. February 1896.From Wiki:After Hardy had trouble publishing his first novel, he was told to "attempt a novel with a purely artistic purpose, giving it a more 'complicated' plot than was attempted with his first, unpublished novel." The publication of Desperate Remedies was Hardy's breakthrough, and the first of a long string of novels that propelled him to the forefront of Victorian letters.4* Tess of the d'Urbervilles3* The Mayor of Casterbridge4* Far from the Madding Crowd3* The Mayor of Casterbridge3* The Three Strangers4* An Imaginative Woman and Other Stories4* The Woodlanders5* A Pair of Blue Eyes4* Under the Greenwood Tree4* The Return of the Native4* Jude the Obscure4*The Hand of Ethelberta4* Two on a Tower3* Desperate RemediesTBR The Distracted PreacherTBR The Trumpet-MajorTBR Wessex Tales

  • Nicki
    2019-05-20 12:04

    This was Hardy’s first foray into novel writing, and while it isn’t nearly as good as his later work, I don’t think it was a “false start” as some suggest. Hardy wrote his first novel to please publishers who wanted a story of sensation – and he delivered. Desperate Remedies is full of mystery, murder, and romance. I found myself working to unravel plot threads and thinking that I had it all figured out, only to have Hardy surprise me with some missing piece of the puzzle.Beyond a work of sensation, Desperate Remedies contains traces of what would become Hardy’s signature elements such as fate, coincidence, class struggle, and naturalism. While the characterizations are not as strong, the pastoral imagery not as vivid, and the writing not as lyrical as his later work, there are hints of all of those things that would become so fundamental to Hardy’s style.Cytherea Graye pales in comparison to Tess Durbeyfield or Bathsheba Everdene, but she combines two seemingly opposing traits for which Hardy’s heroines are known – intelligence and naivety. Like Bathsheba, Cytherea represents the height of womanhood. She’s idealized – intelligent, innocent, graceful, and beautiful – but not flawless.Rather than a false start, I see Desperate Remedies as a glimpse of the Hardy that was to come. The aforementioned elements would later expand and evolve in his work, his rustic characterizations would deepen, the importance of setting would intensify, and he would learn to weasel his way around pesky publishers in order to stay true to his vision.I wouldn’t recommend beginning an exploration of Hardy’s work with this novel, but for the Hardy enthusiast, it’s an essential piece.

  • Robert
    2019-04-25 04:50

    This is Hardy's first published novel and it displays a number of themes that became staples of his prose works: an affair of the heart thwarted by circumstance, the effects of low social mobility, coincidence influencing the course of protagonists' lives. It does not bring social commentary to the fore-front, however. Instead the reader is propelled through the story by an urge to solve mysteries, one of which is not entirely cleared up until the final pages.It is interesting to contrast the heroine, her family and lover with other characters in the book; the former are bland and vague, somewhat stereo-typical in comparison to the more minor, rural charcters who come to life instantly through Hardy's intimate knowledge of the local dialect. The scenes where they appear are used in large part to convey local gossip without having to have a major protagonist awkwardly have to express the information or learn it in a manner otherwise unrelated to the plot.Desperate Remedies sits neither in the top rank of Hardy's novels, nor in the bottom; it has the great merit of not having been interfered with by editors but it lacks the anger that seethes through the major Tragedies and the ironic wit displayed by the endings of The Woodlanders or A Laodician but it is certainly worth the time of any Hardy fan.

  • Sylvester
    2019-05-02 06:01

    So interesting, to read Hardy's second attempt at a novel (and first published work) - the difference between it and "Jude the Obscure", his almost-last novel, is remarkable. Definitely on the sensational side. I enjoyed it, but it lacked the depth of his other work. For the sake of seeing how his writing developed, it's worth it - it's an interesting story in it's own right. But it did make me realize how much I love Hardy's descriptions of old country life and people, and his painstaking character-building. This book is like the crust on a deep-dish pie, light and flaky but you break through to amazing richness of flavor. Just after, he wrote "Under the Greenwood Tree".(It recently came to my attention that some people refer to Hardy as a "Romance" writer. I was so irritated! And yet in every one of his novels (I think)love is the central issue - so why does that word "Romance" bother me? Ugh! It does. I dislike it. I don't equate it with love. I don't think of Hardy as a "Romance Novelist", just the thought makes me break out in hives.)

  • Lena
    2019-05-15 08:14

    If this book was written today by a modern author I probably wouldn't like it.That's the magic of victorian literature.Hardy writes in a beautiful poetical way I liked much even though it was a little difficult to read especially if you weren't concentrated.The plot on the other hand wasn't anything innovative.At first it seemed more promising due to the interesting character of Mrs Aldclyffe but unfortunately her character was vey vague.The character of Cytherea confused me a little.Again at the first part of the book she seems independent brave and dynamic.She even talks back to Mrs Aldclyffe in a passionate way.But after that she seems totaly pathetic and weak leaving me wondering.The story was simple enough,there was a little climax at the end and some nice moments but all in all nothing blowminding.Luckily Gothic style prevails once again.The spoiler contained in the notes is infuriating.What were they thinking?????

  • Deborah Byrd
    2019-05-12 12:56

    What an interesting revelation, that authors of today's "great literature" also wrote pot-boilers, presumably to survive, in their day. This book is clearly written by the master's hand, but it has all the drama of a Danielle Steele novel. Lust, murder, blackmail, bigamy ... and of course innocence. Good story! I had fun reading it.

  • Libby Stephenson
    2019-05-07 13:08

    !!!!! #victober

  • Sorcha
    2019-05-08 04:59

    Read as part of the local "Hardy Readers" book group, that is reading many of Hardy's published works, in order.This is the first book in the series.It starts with Cytherea and her brother Owen. Their family back history is given short shrift - the father falls in love, has a relationship, she leaves (the implication being to have his child), and he then marries another woman and has two children - Owen, and Cytherea, who was named after his first love.Both parents die, leaving little money and Owen barely trained to earn a living, and Cytherea trained to do even less. A short term contract leads Owen to another job and Cytherea in love with Edward. When the need to get another job becomes pressing, Cytherea gets a job as a lady's maid, which she gets through words of mouth. She is separated from Owen who has to get elsewhere to complete his training and earn money. It soon becomes apparent that she is not suitable to be a lady's maid, but the woman she is now employed by (Miss Aldclyffe) is her father's first love. She is kept on as a companion, and a new maid is hired.Miss Aldclyffe is a capricious character - seemingly prone to whims and changes in direction. After the death of her father, she hires a steward (Aeneas Manston) over some men who are eminently more qualified to do the job, including Edward, Cytherea's love. The implication being that Mantson is her son. Despite being married, Manston falls in love with Cytherea. After the death of his wife in an accidental fire, Manston blackmails Aldclyffe into helping him get Edward married off to his cousin so that the way to Cytherea is clear. Unable to seduce Cytherea, he resorts to blackmail and emotional pressure into making her marry him, even though she doesnt love him. However, almost immediately after the marriage, doubt is shed over the death of Manston's first wife, and then things start to unravel for Manston. Review/Commentary[return][return]As to the story itself, I liked it - mystery, true love, blackmail, intrigue, murder - really, what's not to like?[return][return]As far as I'm concerned, the thing I didnt like was the execution. He did lose me during volume 2, as something I dislike about Hardy's work is his reliance on/habit of "implication". Time and again things are implied (I want to read Tess again to see if it's just as annoying there as I remember too), with things rarely being made explicit or concrete. Manston 's wife does write to Aldclyffe to essentially blackmail her, and I think that's the most concrete statement about Manston's parentage in the whole book almost right to the end.[return][return]I have to admit that things did pick up in Volume 3, and did turn my review of the book around - it was not going to be a good review! If only the whole book had been this good! [return][return]Hardy was either not comfortable with or did not enjoy writing dialogue. Whole passages/pages are spent without a word of dialogue being put down on the page. [return][return]The book is split into sub chapters, some of which covering a matter of minutes or hours, some covering months. Each sub chapter had a heading detailing the time period it covered. I was trying to decide whether I liked this format or not, but decided that the pace suffered in switching from the minute to the epic scale and back within chapters.As I mentioned earlier, Aldclyffe is capricious and moody. Some of her behaviour is explainable - e.g. her desire to bring Manston to the estate results in her excluding people more qualified for the job but some of it isnt. Her behaviour when she realises who Cytherea is is slightly disturbing, over the top, and uncomfortable - a scene that Hardy himself was not happy with (according to the notes) with the implication that it might be construed as a Lesbian scene, and not a scene I think he corrected particularly well. Her desire (and what she's prepared to resort to) to get Cytherea to marry Manston is not altogether clear until the very last pages of the book. She disappears for most of the second half of the book only to appear again in the last few chapters.Cytherea is a strange character as well. In some ways she's strong - she rejects Manston for a long time, and evaluates the situation before she finally accepts. However, she's also quite "weak" - some might call it naive.Edward was always going to be "the hero" and "the one true love" and is a quietly strong man, stuck in a moment waiting for his love.[return][return]Owen is much like his sister, weak and naive, and a little undeveloped.

  • Joyce Yarrow
    2019-05-16 08:57

    It's not surprising that Thomas Hardy's books have a reputation for being depressing. He does put his characters through intense trials and tribulations. Which was why, as a new reader of his work, I opened Desperate Remedies with some trepidation. To my delight, I found Hardy's portrayal of Cytherea Graye to be packed with realism, empathy and psychological insight--although a bit melodramatic at times. This was his first published novel - definitely a good place for a first-time reader to start.I especially enjoyed the way Hardy uses dialog to reveal character and add a some suspense, as demonstrated in the following excerpt:"No wedden this mornen--that's my opinion. In fact, there can't be," he said abruptly, as if the words were the mere torso of a many-membered thought that had existed complete in his head.Cytherea, who has been forced by poverty to work as a lady's maid, is a sympathetic but by no means perfect character-- her indecisiveness and tendency to jump to the wrong conclusions at crucial junctures in her life made me like her all the more. It is not easy for a first-time novelist to write from the point of view of the opposite sex, so it's "hat's off" to Thomas Hardy!

  • Martin Bihl
    2019-05-11 11:15

    as hard as it may be to believe, i've never read any hardy. except for one poem i had to write an essay about for a contest in college (i didn't win. but i'm over it now. ahem). so i've decided to read him. but where to start? how about at the beginning? even though that means reading this convoluted effort that probably doesn't give me the best impression of his ability and style? sure, why not?because i know that i will read all of him. or at least i will tell myself i will read all of him. which is pretty much the same thing. and anyway, what better way to see his ability develop than by starting at the beginning?so how was desperate remedies? tedious in parts. overblown with a plot that hardy didn't seem to have good control of in others. a few interesting and compelling characters. some of that wessex country pushing through. certainly enough to encourage me to read more, though not enough to make me want to read this again.

  • Eesha Sajid
    2019-05-05 06:09

    even in the earliest stage of his career, Desperate remedies is very much a Hardy. i don't know what else can i say since its a very non-descript book, except perhaps that its very victorian. it couldnt satisfy me in the way Hardy does in his own definition of satisfaction. a simple plot line, a good insight to human nature, good and bleak aspects of the society then. a complete classic. if you do have a healthy appetite for classics go for it, otherwise, there is always another contemporary round the corner.

  • Nicki Markus
    2019-05-22 09:01

    I have read most of Hardy's work, but had not yet tried this, his first offering. I really enjoyed it from start to finish. As the description suggests, there are hints of Wilkie Collins in the story line, but in the prose you can see glimpses of what will become Hardy's strong descriptive style. The plot itself, while indeed sensational, is gripping and I was also keen to pick the book up again each night and see what would happen next.

  • metaphor
    2019-05-23 09:07

    There is in us an unquenchable expectation, which at the gloomiest time persists in inferring that because we are ourselves, there must be a special future in store for us, though our nature and antecedents to the remotest particular have been common to thousands.*But what is Wisdom really? A steady handling of any means to bring about any end necessary to happiness.

  • Cheryl
    2019-05-17 13:15

    Abandoning this one after the half-way mark. A strange mix of writing styles that doesn't really work. The pace is too slow for a "Sensation" novel, with the author straying from the plot to include introspection and descriptions of nature. So glad Hardy found his own style in later novels, instead of trying to imitate "Sensation" writers. Try his other novels and leave this one for last.

  • Desiree Koh
    2019-05-21 06:46

    I'm embarking on a Thomas Hardy project with Lookie whereby we are reading his canon from book number one, "Desperate Remedies" through the last, "Jude the Obscure" to trace the degeneration of the writer's views on Victorian society and fall into depression. Of course, I've read all Hardy's books several times, but never before in chronological order.

  • Quirkyreader
    2019-05-04 11:57

    See my review on my book blog:

  • Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
    2019-05-15 09:48

    I know I read this, and I think I liked it, but I remember nothing about it. Something of a potboiler, I think.

  • Roman Kurys
    2019-05-10 07:10

    I have never read any of Hardy’s more famous novels. There, with that out of the way, I can now share how I felt about “Desperate Remedies” without feeling like I’m not appreciating what made Hardy a classic. And I felt this book was ok. A very solid story on all accounts. Characters: 3So, I feel reluctant to even say this, but it is the truth, so here it goes. My favorite character in this story was its villain, Aeneas Manston. I know, I’m supposed to sympathize with Cytherea and her brother and their struggles in life but I just didn’t. I found Cytherea very bland and boring. Her brother was just an average person going through life, and although I get the struggle, I couldn’t find myself caring enough about him. All the other characters really were just a set up around Manston, about who, I wanted to know more. Even at his lowest points, I continued to symphasize with him. Talk about a series of unfortunate events... Damn you, Hardy, why you make me face moral dilemmas.Plot: 3I also felt confused about what this story was trying to be. In the beginning, as I slogged through the pages, feeling bored, it felt like a paperback romance novel. All of a sudden things change and turn pretty dark, gothic even maybe. (I’m not a pro at specific sub genres). From there it proceeds to turn into a detective story with a dark twist and on to an ending, which completely unlike what the preview says was NOT expected at all. Maybe I needed to pay more attention to details in that boring first half?Setting: 2Nothing stood out to me in the setting of this story. It could’ve happened anywhere else and it would not have made the slightest difference. Some towns, some travel, some very traditional backdrop. It wasn’t bad in any way, I just did not care about it. All in all, I will read more of Hardy’s work when I am in a mood for classics. To be more accurate, when my reading plan tells me it is time to read more classics. I would not recommend it as a casual read, but if you’re in a mood to try something that feels different and are not afraid to experiment, go right ahead and delve in. Roman “Ragnar”

  • Drew Graham
    2019-04-26 12:57

    Thus begins the Year of Hardy! Last year I picked up The Return of the Native, but decided that since I always refer to Thomas Hardy as my favorite author, I should probably read more of his work, which led to the decision to read his entire body of work (novels at least) in chronological order. So I put down Native temporarily, and thus my research led to my discovery of this, Thomas Hardy's first published novel.After the death of Cytherea Graye's father, she and her brother Owen find themselves in an undesirable financial and social situation, which leads them to leave their home and seek better fortune in London. Owen finds temporary work in an architecture firm, alongside young Edward Springrove, who shortly falls for Cytherea, the lady responding likewise. Seeking to help Owen in providing some kind of living, Cytherea advertises herself as a lady's maid, and is hired, despite her inexperience and lack of qualification, by the austere and imposing Miss Aldclyffe, who, coincidentally, employs as a farmer old Mr. Springrove... Soon Miss Aldclyffe, for reasons undisclosed, hired as a new steward to help manage her estate the dark and brooding Aeneas Manston (also fairly unqualified and inexperienced), who also develops feelings for Cytherea. What follows are a series of events and surprising discoveries as Cytherea tries to stay afloat among her dubious admirers, and as the puzzle of Mr. Manston and his relations (as well as Miss Aldclyffe's interest in him) is slowly revealed. As the characters' stories are intertwined, they find themselves in desperate circumstances, the only natural recourse is desperate remedies.This was an excellent book and a gripping read! It's not as well-known, and it was slightly harder to find, but it was worth the search. It's not Hardy's best or anything, but it's definitely a page-turner, and a really good start to his novels. The writing is beautiful, and I'm starting to really be able to identify the Thomas Hardy style (as opposed to Dickens or Austen, for example). The way he describes things is just amazing, and you can actually see and feel what the characters are seeing and feeling. It's a little verbose at times, but when it's so lush and interesting, I can hardly complain. For example:"It was that stagnant hour of the twenty-four when the practical garishness of Day, having escaped from the fresh long shadows and enlivening newness of the morning, has not yet made any perceptible advance towards acquiring those mellow and soothing tones which grace its decline."In other words, "It was early afternoon." But his way there's so much texture and atmosphere! The world of rural England is so affectionately and accurately portrayed, and the occasional visit to London provides a nice contrast. It was so nice to read that I didn't even mind how long the pages sometimes took to get through, or how long it took me from start to finish. There's a general lack of actual dialogue, but the story moves along at a steady pace, and he occasionally makes effective use of villagers spreading gossip to inform the reader of events. Of course some of his story elements and themes of fate, coincidence and tragic circumstance are already well in place and nicely formed, and the whole story reads like a kind of puzzle that it was a pleasure to put together and try to guess. At various times, I had no idea what was going to happen! The characters are mostly pretty strong. Cytherea (pronounced sith-uh-REE-uh, since I know you're wondering, as I certainly was) isn't the strongest female protagonist in Hardy's body of work by any means, but she's sweet and serious and sympathetic, and I cared about her welfare. Miss Aldclyffe is a nice sort of blend of vexing and mysterious, even a little bit creepy. There's a nice contrast between Springrove and Manston, both with their own secrets, but each of a totally different feeling and texture. Even in the end, you're left with the slightest uncertainty as to who knew what and when, and if their motives were truly pure. How they all work around each other's machinations was confusing and exciting. It's a nice cast with vividly-described people, and I looked forward to seeing what they were going to say and do every time I picked up the book. It's not a perfect book, but its faults aren't overbearing or overly-problematic. I still probably wouldn't recommend it as a first-read for Hardy newbies, but it was quite good, and would especially appeal to those familiar with a few of his books.While this lesser known book isn't Thomas Hardy's best, it's an excellent start to his writing career. I was captivated from start to finish, and it was fun to read something completely new to me. Love, tragedy, mystery, murder, sham marriages and intrigue in the dead of night? Desperate Remedies indeed!

  • Giornata_di_sole
    2019-05-13 09:15

    Il primo romanzo di Thomas Hardy, pubblicato nel 1871. In Estremi rimedi, appare, come luogo di eventi melodrammatici e di colpi di scena, un paesaggio rurale solo apparentemente pacifico. Anzi, si potrebbe dire che proprio il quadretto marino, che tratteggia l'idillio tra la bella Cytherea e il suo innamorato Edward, soli su una barca “galeotta”, rappresenti l'unico momento di autentica serenità in un intreccio in cui non solo ogni accadimento è carico di insidie per l'eroina, ma al cui interno sembrano entrare in conflitto due diverse strategie narrative. Da una parte ci sono digressioni e riflessioni etiche, affidate alla voce moraleggiante del narratore onnisciente, il quale(soprattutto nella prima parte del libro)non manca di fornire i suoi insegnamenti sentenziosi sulle donne sensibili ma incostanti e di cospargere di citazioni letterarie e bibliche il suo linguaggio. Poi,però, il ritmo della narrazione si fa più frenetico e i colpi di scena si susseguono non appena la candida Cytherea è stata convinta da una vera e propria congiura a sposare il tenebroso sovrintendente Manston, il figlio segreto di Miss Aldclyffe, la proprietaria terriera presso cui Cytherea ha trovato lavoro, in qualità di dama di compagnia, per scoprire che costei è un'antica innamorata del padre morto, ora trasformatasi in ricca e subdola zitella. Mentre la scansione temporale indica rigorosamente i giorni e le ore, la rassicurante sapienza del narratore onnisciente vittoriano e il moralismo tradizionale si rivelano niente altro che un travestimento da cui spunta l'occhio di un artista lucidissimo e indagatore della natura umana e rurale. Egli incrocia di continuo gli sguardi dei suoi personaggi, che tutti convergono su Cytherea e che tutti si osservano, si misurano..Questo mondo narrativo così disarmonico ruota attorno a due scene centrali, una diurna e una notturna. Nella prima Cytherea viene portata all'altare da Manston, un villain che ricorda alla lontana lo Heathcliff di Emily o il Rochester di Charlotte Bronte, mentre una serie di presagi preparano all'ennesima sorpresa: Manston è già sposato... Nella seconda, un cumulo di erbacce, lasciato a bruciare vicino alla sua abitazione in legno da un taverniere scatena un incendio che annienta un'intera fila di case, e carbonizza - o così pare - la suddetta moglie di Manston. Dal modello realistico-pedagogico del romanzo vittoriano passiamo,quindi, alla dimensione del gotic e del detective novel..E tuttavia nessuno dei personaggi acquista una vera grandezza..perfino i più convenzionalmente malvagi appaiono impulsivi, maldestri, vittime delle circostanze quanto e più delle anime belle che vorrebbero irretire. Hardy ha capito subito che il sensation novel libera la fantasia dei lettori e poi la imbriglia riportandola sotto il controllo dei più consolidati valori etici. Ciò che invece non è più controllabile è il mutamento radicale a cui è sottoposta la campagna inglese. Nella grande villa dove Cytherea si stabilisce accanto alla figura ambigua di Miss Aldclyffe, capace nei suoi confronti di slanci quasi lesbici e di perfidi intrighi, si sentono due rumori costanti: quello di una cascata d'acqua e quello di una pompa idraulica. La tecnologia ha fatto irruzione, come sottolinea anche la presenza frequente del treno e della linea ferroviaria, che mette in contatto la campagna e la città. Se la natura non offre sicurezza e la macchina incombe, Cytherea, «agitata come una canna al vento», non può che adeguarsi al suo destino di patetica orfanella, un «agnellino rubato» al suo Edward, che, dopo averle a sua volta taciuto di essere promesso sposo a un'altra, si redime trasformandosi in investigatore privato sulle tracce delle malefatte di Manston. La vita è un labirinto, sottolinea più volte il narratore onnisciente, dove «le cose non sono come sembrano», anche se per Cytherea esiste la via d'uscita prevista dal sensation novel con il suo lieto fine.