©2007 BBC Audiobooks LTD; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
I first read this book about 40 years ago, and coming back to it now, with Stephen Thorne's wonderful narration, I feel the same sense of overwhelming tragedy. The climax of the book is shattering.
Jude is a country laborer with a dream, and with patience and determination to match. He teaches himself Greek and Latin while supporting himself as a stonemason, and he hopes to become a fellow at the University. But one thing after another happens, and his opportunities become more and more constricted. Personal drama takes center stage. He falls in love with his cousin Sue, a relationship doomed not only by his own prior entanglements but by Sue's own indecisiveness and apparent horror at physical expressions of love. (There's something damaged about Sue that Hardy never tries to explain: it just is.)
Stephen Thorne is a terrific reader: all characters distinctively voiced in a variety of accents, with the brooding narrator hovering over all. Enthralling throughout: but be forewarned that it ends badly for pretty much everybody you care about.
I thought the narrator was good as far as creating the environment but his portrayal of the female characters is weak and kept slightly pulling me out of the story. Not enough, however, to bring me to quitting it all together. I don't regret the time spent on the book.
I love this book, and have loved it since I was a teenager dreaming of how Jude and I would have been soulmates, but this narrator is the worst! His deadpan, inflectionless reading of this heartrending text is unlistenable-too. I had to stop. Poor Jude, he was sounding as exciting as last year's weather report. Oh my, what a lost opportunity to bring a fantastic novel to life!
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