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Dr. Maria Carla Sanchez

Associate Professor of English

Maria Carla Sanchez

The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy

When I was thirteen, I was reading young adult fiction and devouring a book a day, sometimes even two, which proved to be an expensive habit for my family! So one day when she came home from work, my mother handed me six books, asked me to read them, and promised I'd get more when I'd finished -- but I did need to finish them. The Mayor of Casterbridge was one, along with Jane Austen's Emma, Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, and Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles -- her nod to my love of mysteries. I no longer remember the other two in the bunch, but I do remember that it felt as if whole new worlds opened up for me. I was challenged, which I hadn't been in a while, and I responded -- I didn't go back to the "kid stuff." I truly, madly, deeply fell in love with Thomas Hardy and the Victorian era, and that love has never abated. I still have this copy of The Mayor of Casterbridge: lots of words are underlined, words I didn't know at thirteen. Its spine has seen better days, and at some point, I drew logos for my favorite bands on the inside covers. ("I love the Who!") Whenever I think of this novel, I think of how my mother was ambitious for me, in ways both large and small, and how she has always supported my love of reading. I am very, very lucky to have her as my mom, so I choose this book in her honor.