The renowned English writer, Thomas Hardy, has garnered my respect. Not since reading Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre a year ago have I read a novel that so well engages the human condition, equipping its reader toward a deeper understanding of people and love.
“They spoke very little of their mutual feelings: pretty phrases and warm attentions being probably unnecessary between such tried friends. Theirs was that substantial affection which arises (if any arises at all) when the two who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher sides of each other’s character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality. This good-fellowship—camaraderie, usually occurring through similarity of pursuits, is unfortunately seldom superadded to love between the sexes, because they associate not in their labours but in their pleasures merely. Where however happy circumstance permits its development the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death—that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, beside which the passion usually called by the name is evanescent as steam.” (Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd)