Grace Melbury, the only daughter of a timber-merchant, arrives home in Little Hintock after an expensive education and her father looks to find a husband for her. There are two rivals for her hand: Giles Winterborne, a good-hearted yeoman and her childhood sweetheart; and Edred Fitzpiers, an ambitious young doctor of good family. Fitzpiers wins her, but the mismatch brings unhappiness not just to the young couple, but to a wider circle in the woodland community.
The Woodlanders is one of Hardy's most powerful works and the one he liked best. With brooding sexual undertones, it addresses themes about which the author held strong views: the laws of divorce, the inequalities of society, and the uncertainty of land tenure.
Public Domain (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
The book tells a classic story about love and the reality we all live in in terms of tradition, moral, virtues, and the choices we face every day.
Initially I bought it because of the narrator. I was familiar with the story; I have seen the film, starring Rufus Sewell as Giles and Emily Woof as Grace, and I wanted to hear the original text which inspired the film. I was right in assuming the book would be even better than the movie. Throughout the wonderful and captivating narration I saw Giles and Grace in the atmosphere of their time. The story was well rounded, without sharp and unpolished edges, and the voice of the narrator was so amazing, like silk on the skin, or thunder in the woods in a stormy day, that I though I was listening to several actors doing a play. It is exactly the impression the book conveys- a masterful play with passion and restraint.
This is a book for the romantic at heart. It finishes with a sadness, but tinged with hope for a little happiness, and wisdom.
My only problem with this book is that it is abridged - I could listen to Rufus Sewell all day, his narration is perfect with the characters just jumping out at you without having to focus on who they are.
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