Author of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy published his epic account of English rural life, Far From the Madding Crowd, in 1874. Spanning years, this story details Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak's complex relationship. Jill Master's performance is perfect for this passionate audiobook. Capturing Hardy's romanticism, Master's British voice is airy and sweet yet dramatic. By consistently modulating her pacing and pitch, Masters ensures that this 15-hour saga captivates. Effortlessly, she handles both male and female voices. Fans of Victorian realist literature will certainly enjoy this complicated audiobook.
It was as a poet that Hardy wished to be remembered, but today critics regard his novels as an even more memorable contribution to English literature for their psychological insight, their instinctive delineation of English character, and their profound presentation of great tragedy.
© and (P)1984 Jimcin Recordings
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.
Business Physicist and Astronomer
First, I love Thomas Hardy. Next to Proust, he is my favorite author. But every time I started to listen to this title, the narrator seemed too dull. I just couldn't get into it. Finally, after yet another restart, I began to enjoy the readers style---which I now believe ideally suited to this tome.
Stay with it and once the hook is set, you'll enjoy being hauled in.
I am a great fan of Thomas Hardy in spite of the fact that so many of his writings - Like "Tess," for example, are rather sad in mood.
This was different. It was a beautiful story but also uplifting. Just a wonderful listening experience. Great reader, too. And...I can't help mentioning it since another reviewer brought it up... Audible has nothing to do with how a book is broken up when you transfer it to CD's. The CD burning software does that. The program I have ( Nero ) cares only about the time, not the meaning. As far as I know, all software burning programs are like that. Just so you know...
Well, to try out audiobooks I ended up with this one and Frederick Davidson's War and Peace. Granted it's hardly a fair comparison, but I recommend War and Peace. Note I gave this work four stars though, and not without reason.
I don't feel I'm experienced enough with these things to critique the narrator, but I can say I took no issue with her; indeed, her part was aptly undertaken.
Now, I chose this, a book I'd never heard of, despite the long list of books I'm "getting around to" because Thomas Hardy wrote it. I enjoyed his style through a (normal sense) reading of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and several other authors later I am enjoying it for a third time with (audiobook) Jude the Obscure. If it were not for Hardy's endearment, I very much doubt I'd have considered this book at all, because it does smack of the soap opera, though of course my comparison is once again unfair, being anachronistic.
But in that frame, where Jude the Obscure is notedly darker than Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd is notedly lighter; this made for both a morbid disappointment and a pleasant surprise. The pleasant feeling overrode the morbid, for my perspective, so three point five stars for the rest of the audiobook and another half-star for the surprise.
Jill Masters was born to read the part of Bathsheba Everdene. I couldn't imagine a more felicitous conjuction than that of John Rowe and Marcel Proust...but now I'm thinking that Jill Masters and Thomas Hardy are another match made in heaven.
This is the second time this week I came across a Jill Masters narrated story, the first was Eve's Ransom and was flawless. She has a perfect voice for conveying the nuances and complex patterns of Thomas Hardy and indeed the authors of this period. In order to tell the story, one has to know the story. It is obvious, the performer does her homework.
Let me see. Up and coming farmer, Gabriel Oak, meets poor girl: a smart, educated, pretty girl Bathsheba Everdine . As to her feelings, I don't know but she did run after him in order to be asked to marry him after her aunt had sent him away. She didn't want to miss it. However, in Darcyesque fashion, he managed to agree with her that he thought it an imprudent match for him as he should be marring a woman with money. Bathsheba refused and soon moved away. Due to a disaster, Gabriel lost his farm; everything. In the meantime an uncle died leaving Bathsheba wealthy; the problem is reversed. When they meet again, she has been pondering the problem; let us admit it, she likes him. Still, the social rules and conventions forbid him to speak, forbid the match. The how the rules were overcome is the story. Around this basic love story, Hardy seamlessly shoehorns in many other stories of fellow residents. This is my umpteenth reading since college. I love those quirky characters.
We can turn our noses up at the rules and conventions of this period and think they were hopeless backward. However, today the sons and daughters of rich doctors, lawyers, governors or presidents don't marry plumbers, beauticians, janitors or laborers. They wouldn't be welcomed at the country club if they did. So don't sneer. Hardy wrote about 1900 but also 2009 and our rules. At least their rules recognized our basic animal nature while we pretend we are exempt from our animal selves.
This is an amazing book. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a great and powerful love story. Awesome.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
I saw the Julie Christie movie many years ago, and was interested in reading the book it was about.
Thomas Hardy writes with such understanding of man and woman's foibles and mores. The story revolves around a beautiful woman, Bathsheba Everdene and the 3 men who love her.
It's a heartbreaking story and will have you in tears several times.
Jill Master's narration is clear and concise. She sounds like Audrey Hepburn. The only problem I had with her speech is sometimes it is too bland.
This story is well worth the 15 plus hours you will put into it.
I listen to this recording about 40 years after reading the book and shortly after seeing the second filmed version. I almost always get a lot out of the recording that I missed in the reading, and this was no exception. Hardy's love of the rural life shines through every word, and the story is good and strong. Jill Masters reads well, if a little too carefully. Well worth getting.
"Very poor audio quality"
Quite good narration was often spoilt by poor audio quality. I still made it to the end though and, on balance, enjoyed it.
"Great story, terrible audio quality"
Definitely a classic but sounds like it was recorded underwater in the 1930's. Be prepared to persevere with the audio - it doesn't really add to the book.
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