The second of 'The Wessex Chronicles'. The novel explores the multi-faceted, complex relationships that can exist between different generations of the sexes.
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Thomas Hardy and the Dorset Lovers
Thomas Hardy and the Dorset lovers-2
Sarah Mason lives in a typical Victorian industrial town. Happy to be starting her Easter holiday from school, her joy is short lived for, a year after her step-father disappeared without trace, her mother is tragically killed in a road accident, leaving Sarah and her twin brothers without any means of support. Stoically she decides her only course of action is to go in search of her real father and with some reluctance places the boys in the local orphanage.
Her search begins in a small Wessex village where sadly Sarah becomes caught up in the very lifestyle she has been so desperate to evade.
Eventually she meets a wealthy industrialist who becomes devotedly attached to her and helps her in her brave quest but the unexpected outcome leaves Sarah devastated.
It was nearing the end of April, and exceptionally warm for the time of year. The air, with no cooling breeze or rain to wash away the dust which lay thick on the unmade roads and footpaths, felt dry and stifling. Clara had just been to see a client for whom she was making a very special Ball gown. If she were able to finish the gown, on time and to her client''s liking, the lady had promised to recommend Clara to her wealthy friends. The payment would be large enough to cover the rent for the next month and with further orders of such high status she would be able to stop paying the landlord the usual weekly visit. There would even be a little left over to take the children to the Easter Fair at Midsummer Meadow, she planned, as she hastily tried to cross the busy Bridge Street. Deep in thought, Clara failed to see the large dray bearing down on her...
Sarah gradually made her way through the bustling throng in the market square and headed towards the narrow lane that led onto the main thoroughfare of Northampton town centre. Heedless of the weather, she felt elated as she swung her books on the end of a well-worn leather strap. Good Friday was but a day away, it was the end of term and the prize for the best girl of her year had been awarded to her. She could still, in her mind''s eye, see the inscription on the prize book-Sarah Mason, Best Girl in Year 1847/48. Her mother would be so thrilled and proud when Sarah told her the glad tidings especially because of the sacrifices she had needed to make to ensure her daughter and twin sons received a good education.
Sarah crossed the road, nimbly avoiding the carriages lumbering in front and behind her, ignoring the clouds of dust being thrown up into the faces of passers-by. They were mostly large carts and drays drawn by huge shire horses but the occasional, smaller and swifter trap, would weave in and out of the main traffic. She thought how wonderful it must feel to travel in such style with the wind in her face, instead of having to walk everywhere. She sighed deeply. Such things were not for the likes of her family.