The wonderful Anna Massey does a fabulous job reading this book. Never mind that I'd read it before, and seen the movie and every miniseries the BBC has ever churned out using this story--including the one from the 70s starring Anna Massey. When Massey started reading, I was as captivated as if I'd never heard the story before. She captures all the characters perfectly and lends the story a depth I hadn't really picked up before. The elegiac first chapters resonate through the rest of the book. Another reviewer said that this is the kind of project that Audible was made for, and I agree. It's the perfect marriage of narrator and novel.
The history here is interesting, but as a novelization, this fell flat for me. The revolving first-person narration is clunky, with characters constantly declaring their schemes and motives directly to the reader.
This book has many of Thomas Hardy's usual themes--literally star-crossed lovers--but it is more condensed than his longer novels. Aside from a rushed, unsatisfying ending, I really enjoyed it. And Michael Kitchen is an amazing reader.
I loved listening to this story, even though the hero was flawed past all hope. My only problem with the book was that the culprit was a little easy to see through. At one point, the narrator asks the reader, "You didn't see it coming, either, did you?" Well, yes. Up Fifth Avenue. But the other characterizations were so wonderful, it's hard to quibble.
Now, Audible, where is The Likeness? It seems odd to have the first and third books by this author, but not the second.
This is one of my favorite books, and Juliet Stephenson does a great job reading it. She renders the thick northern dialect understandable, and gives character to all the voices. Loved it.
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