I’ve just got into Time Torn Man by Claire Tomalin, the latest bio of Thomas Hardy. I was a bit hesitant because it’s a great, thick tome and I somehow had the vibes that it might be dry. As a sometime biographer myself I’m also violently jealous of the posh “London set” who always get the commissions for these big name projects.
But I reluctanly have to admit that it’s a great read. It’s set in my second favourite county – Dorset, and he falls in love in my favourite county – Cornwall. He’s also, like me and Dickens, a boy from a working class family with no literary leanings who somehow became a writer. The only slight difference between them and me is that they wrote a string of world class, best selling novels. But let’s not split hairs. And there’s still time.
The only thing I don’t like is the cover. It makes him look very shifty. And why is he wearing two ties?
I’ve tried to read Tess of the D’Urbevilles twice but am ashamed to say I gave up both times. The writing was brilliant, needless to say, but very wordy in that Victorian way. But mainly it was the characters of Tess and Angel Clare. I eventually just wanted to knock their heads together, and that was when I started to lose my enthusiasm. You’ve got to like at least one of the main characters!
But I’m determined not to give up. When I’ve finished the bio I’m going to either try Tess once more or maybe Far from the Madding Crowd or The Mayor of Casterbridge.