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This is a classic book with a fascinating plot, a heroine who is beset by not two but three suitors, all of them very different. The choices she makes lead determine their fates, along with their own vices and virtues, but it's all brilliantly crafted and makes for great reading. The portrayal of life in a country town in the west of England is equally as much a reason for reading this. I enjoyed this much more than any other Hardy novel.
And in particular, this particular version has the reader using a West Country accent that adds a terrific layer of local colour to the experience. When used for the voice of the narrator, I did find it awkward, since Hardy would hardly have spoken that way but would have used the polished tones of an educated man. But when speaking the various characters, and most particularly the assorted set of country bumpkins who make up a sort of chorus of local simple folk and play a fairly important role in the story, the reader is dazzlingly perfect. I confess that with the heavy accent I couldn't understand most of what the country folk were saying, but it hardly mattered. The main characters get a lighter dose of the same accent and are all perfectly clear. An enthusiastic 5-star rating for Mr Hynes' performance on this book.
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This is my favorite Hardy novel. I was prompted by the recent film version to revisit the book. How glad I am that I did. To hear the book as it was written is to do full justice to it. Every word and syllable has it's propose and place and the language used transports the listener to a simpler time and place. The insight and understanding of the characters is amazing and each becomes a living being.<br/>The book is enhanced enormously by the reader. He clearly understands Hardy very well and acts out the book perfectly. In chapter eight, for example, there is a scene in the malthouse consisting of ten or twelve different characters. Every one is performed distinctly each with it's own personality. Wonderful!<br/>The story itself is very engaging and keeps the attention transfixed all the way through. Also, there are some very funny parts, chapter eight as mentioned above being one.<br/>I highly recommend this version and can't think of a better way to spend fourteen or so hours.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful