As Thomas Hardy prepares to stage Tess of the D'Urbervilles the weakness of his second marriage, his unrequited love for his local leading lady and the fears of old age are revealed. Written from three viewpoints - Thomas, his wife and the actress, and always haunted by his first wife's ghost, this is a novel of repressed emotion, jealousy, longing and unhappiness. But despite the winter gloom there's a subtle humour. A very English story.
When Thomas writes about love it is always about love lost, never about love that endures. He does not believe in love that endures because, for him, it never has endured and never will. I see that now. 'You should not have married me - you should have married someone younger - ' but there was no one younger. No one had ever come close to asking me. I loved him and still do. Was I so wrong to hope that he would come to feel love for me? Is it possible that he does love me, but finds himself unable to express it? But if he loved me, he would let the trees be cut back. How circular my thinking is; every time it loops round to the same thing.