A Pair of Blue Eyes
is a novel by Thomas Hardy
, published in 1873.
The book describes the love triangle of a young woman, Elfride Swancourt, and her two suitors from very different backgrounds. Stephen Smith is a socially inferior but ambitious young man who adores her and with whom she shares a country background. Henry Knight is the respectable, established, older man who represents London society.
Elfride finds herself caught in a battle between her heart, her mind and the expectations of those around her - her parents and society. The novel is notable for the strong parallels to Hardy and his first wife Emma Gifford
. When Elfride's father finds that his guest and candidate for his daughter's hand, architect's assistant Stephen Smith, is the son of a mason, he immediately orders him to leave.
This was the third of Hardy's novels to be published and the first to bear his name. The term "cliffhanger
" is considered to have originated from this novel, which was first serialised in Tinsley's Magazine
between September 1872 and July 1873. At one stage Hardy leaves Henry Knight literally hanging off a cliff staring into the stony eyes of a trilobite
embedded in the rock.