Has anyone ever read "The Trumpet-Major" by Thomas Hardy? It's one of his lesser known and lesser loved novels, written in 1880 (after Far From the Maddening Crowd and Return of the Native, but before Mayor of Casterbridge and Tess). Some argue that this book is a rare "failure" for Hardy... despite the fact that he seems to be on top of his game at this point in his life.
There is a hero - John - but he dies without recognition or fanfare in battle. There is a heroine - Anne - but she seems fickle and petty and self-centered. It's a comedy... well, only sort of. Mostly it reminds me of Shakespeare's As You Like It, or Midsummer Night's Dream with all it's lovers and mistaken identities and confusions, but there is no neat happy ending, and what passes as a happy ending feels like a disappointment.
But is it a failure? What do you think? Has anyone read this?