In the home stretch of Two on a Tower…

I almost finished this book yesterday, but ended up still about an hour short of the finish line when I was forced to put it down in order to run out and watch the Colts game with some friends (let’s not talk about how that went…)

This book is a lesser known novel of Thomas Hardy, who is more famous for books such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Return of the Native, and Far from the Madding Crowd – all of which I’ve also read, but many years ago. Reading more ‘obscure’ classics such as this always sets me wondering. Wondering if anyone else in the world is reading this book “right now.” Wondering how many people read this book in a given year. Wondering about all those who have read it before me, especially those who might have read it near the time it was written. As I’ve been enjoying this novel, and all the twists and turns of the plot, I cannot help but picture some Victorian Era reader sitting on a ‘window seat’ or in some salon or drawing room of the 19th century delighting at these same twists and turns that I am navigating.

Am I the only one who wonders about things like this while reading? Surely I mustn’t be… I posted earlier this year about how – after reading Sir Walter Scott’s Guy Mannering – I later read in the non-fiction Civil War book, Company Aytch, how one of the soldiers was carrying around this same book in his knapsack, which I think is just the coolest thing ever, linking me with another reader of another time – more than a century ago.

I can’t remember exactly where I read it, but one time an author wrote about how books were like time machines. You open them up, and author (often long since dead) begins speaking inside your head. I think this is a very neat – and accurate – description of what I sometimes feel is going on when I read “the classics.”

Thomas Hardy

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