The Trumpet Major
Thomas Hardy's only historical novel, The Trumpet Major is set in Wessex during the Napoleonic Wars. Hardy skilfully immerses us in the life of the day, making us feel the impact of historical events on the immemorial local way of life - the glamour of the coming of George III and his soldiery, fears of the press-gang and invasion, and the effect of distant but momentous events like the Battle of Trafalgar. He interweaves a compelling, bitter-sweet romantic love story of the rivalry of two brothers for the hand of the heroine Anne Garland, played out against the loves of a lively gallery of other characters. While there are elements of sadness and even tragedy, The Trumpet-Major shows Hardy's skills of story-telling, characterisation and description in a novel of vitality, comedy and warmth.