trying to see the world with my ears
This is my favorite of the Chronicles of Barsetshire. If someone had told me six months ago that I'd ever even pick up a Trollope novel, I would have needed smelling salts. After recently coming across the very clever Trollope Society web site, I thought there must be some merit to the man's works and downloaded The Warden. I enjoyed every book in the series. There's no Dickenesque social problem exposition, but clever observations on human nature, some nice Victorian prose, lots of opportunity to "read between the lines," and for a Victorian man, some protofeminist ideas (but, unfortunately, he wasn't above his era's racism). I still don't think I would "read" Trollope, but I will listen to everything Audible offers for download. (very good narration though the entire series, too)
Felix is not a five, but better than a four. I found Eliot's Middlemarsh, Daniel Deronda, and Adam Bede to be more satisfying reads all round. Like Adam Bede, Felix Holt starts with a great deal of exposition that might put off some listeners --but If you like 19th century British lit and/or social history - or even engaging characters and action in "historical fiction" this (once you are past the opening exposition), is very satisfying. I think it much stronger as a novel and more engaging than Bronte's Shirley, for ex.
If you are new to Eliot, then think Austen meets all the Bronte sisters with a touch of Dickens, and a good bit more implicit feminism.
I previously listened to the Charton Griffin narrated version - and he was so wrong for the novel (the train whistles inserted between sections didn't help the listen either).
I gave the novel a second chance because this version was on sale - and am very glad that I did. It's some of Gaskill's better prose, and she did have a good grasp of the problems of industrialization as well as a good narrative in which to frame them.
trying to see the world through my ears
Though there are some audio quirks, they didn't significantly interfere with the listen (at least when formatted for ipod). I suppose the quick transmission to downloadable audio may keep the novel's price cheap?
I fell in love with this novel (and Gabriel Oak) when I was 14 and have re-read the paper version several times over the last 35+ years. I hesitated to download it, thinking such a beloved book would suffer in audio, but I really enjoyed the listen. I loved the narrator. She brought to life Hardy's poetic sections, especially those involving the English countryside and farming practices. As others have pointed out, the novel contains a somewhat misogynist portrait, but of a strong-ish heroine (for a Victorian character). In middle age, I felt the misogyny more deeply than back in the 70s, but I put up with it (and often much stronger) in Hardy's contemporaries and predecessors for the beauty if the prose and old fashioned romanticism and realism. Well, admittedly the ending is "too happy;" as someone pointed out --it wasn't Hardy's original ending; I think he had to tone down his realism to get published, but as a teen and now as an old fart, I love the ending. There's enough angst in the world and contemporary lit to suffice for me!
The listen motivates me to download and reacquaint myself with other Hardy novels and perhaps download his bio.