(P)1998, 2006 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
"The foremost novelist of his time." (Geoffrey Harvey, The Complete Critical Guide to Thomas Hardy)
I have never heard of this book until searching on this website. I found the story to be classic Thomas Hardy, even more lyrical and poetic then some of his other more famous works. As always, many twists and turns in the characters and experiences and a surprising ending. He introduces people and places through words, you can form an image of - the doctor, the yeoman, and his famous oral depiction of beautiful places, customs, and a common amiable village culture now lost in the mists of time. If you like Thomas Hardy, this is a definate listen.
One of my favorite Hardy novels. Maybe, his best. Less preaching and display of erudition; more of a natural flow; wonderful characters, even when they are fulfilling "types;" great rustics.. Interesting, what I would call modern ending-but I won't spoil it. This is a mature writer who doesn't have to show-off or try too hard.
The narrator is outstanding. Great pacing and vocal quality. Avoids overly affected female voices. Captures the poetry in Hardy's writing.
Finally, why is Hardy still read when so many of the novels are sad or tragic-it's in the beauty of the language and the wisdom/truth of the speech. A book one can listen to repeatedly.
This was a fairly typical Hardy novel: misplaced affections, broken hearts, overindulgent parents, class divisions, long lost lovers reunited, hints of scandal, etc. There's a bit of Gabriel Oak in Giles Winterborne (and, for that matter, a bit of Bathsheba Everdene in Grace Melbury). Still, I enjoyed the novel, which I listened to on audio, read by the wonderful Samuel West. The secondary female characters--particularly the spunky and loyal Marty South, but also Felice Charmond and Suke Damson--give the novel an added charm, but the conflicted, rather immature, manipulating and rather easily manipulated Grace Melbury really just needed a good smack.
That it was realistic, especially for the time period, but in a way that is today still relatable and that the story is rather complicated both in story and emotion.
Some in these reviews have compared this book to 'Far from The Madding Crowd' and almost seem to be saying they're both sort of the same. They're not. They're quite individual. They have different stories and are both beautifully written. I love both but I seem to like this one a bit better. It's more complex. Don't let them put you off reading this one because you've read 'Far from The Madding Crowd.' If you liked that novel, you'll be missing out quite a lot here.
'Far From The Madding Crowd' because of the common theme of class conflict in love/marriage in both and that Hardy writes complexity of emotion and setting so well and it is apparent in both.
[[SPOILERS]] Probably the scene where Fitzpiers attends Giles in his fever and has to tell Grace that Giles is dying quickly along with the ensuing conversation after he passes.
I didn't have an *extreme* reaction but it did make me quite sad at parts and made me very pleased for a character at others. It made me snicker a couple times as well.
Samuel West was a wonderful narrator. Very nice to listen to and did a great job voicing the characters. The women didn't sound like they were done by Monty Python. Very natural.
Sultry. Emersive. Tragic.
Marty. She's a strong character who makes her own way. She has a natural aptitude for caretaking and remains loyal and steadfast. Also, she's no one's pawn.
West's narration enhances the evocative, rustic setting and his languid reading increases the sense of horror as the book inexorably travels forward to it's tragic conclusion. (Like listening to a train crash in slow motion. :P)
The description of the woodlands is so detailed one can almost smell the the wood. The novel is also amazingly sexual for it's time (as it common in the latter Hardy novels). I haven't read any Hardy in a while and I pretty much inhaled this book, just couldn't put it down!
I love Thomas Hardy. He is extremely real as was the case in the Woodlanders. He does a great job developing the characters and it was fairly interesting watching them grow. If you've read any Hardy, you already know that he does not write action packed novels. This one was even more dry than most. There are a few places where there was slight suspense, but they were not defining moments and there were very few surprises.
SPOILER ALERT: I could never really embrace Grace as a heroine. She was too wishy-washy, willing to be lead around by whichever man was most present in her life at the time. I was waiting for her to break out on her own but it never really happened.
The narrator was solid: not great, not terrible.
Not one I'd put at the top of my recommendation list.
This is the best book I have read for a long time. I was engrossed from start to finish. Hardy so cleverly develops the characters and relationships that you feel you know them and have a connection from early on in the book.
I didn't want it to end.
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