The Return of the Native

  • by Thomas Hardy
  • Narrated by Alan Rickman
  • 15 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)
Exclusively from Audible
Set on Egdon Heath, a fictional barren moor in Wessex, Eustacia Vye longs for the excitement of city life but is cut off from the world in her grandfather's lonely cottage. Clym Yeobright who has returned to the area to become a schoolmaster seems to offer everything she dreams of: passion, excitement and the opportunity to escape. However, Clym's ambitions are quite different from hers, and marriage only increases Eustacia's destructive restlessness, drawing others into a tangled web of deceit and unhappiness.
Considered a truly modern story due to its sexual politics and hindered desires it still holds relevance to audiences today. There is a tension between the symbolic setting of the heath and the modernity of the characters that makes the listener question our freedom to the shape our lives as we wish. Are we always able to live our dreams?
Like George Eliot, Hardy was a Victorian realist whose novels and poetry were greatly influenced by Romanticism, especially the poet William Wordsworth. His critical thoughts on Victorian society can be seen throughout much of his work.
Narrator Biography
Multi-award winning actor and director Alan Rickman, famous for roles such as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films and the Sherriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), had a varied career that included performing on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company in modern and classical theatre productions. In America, he gained recognition for his Broadway appearance in Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1985) and later his role in Die Hard (1988) made him internationally famous. Other notable performances included his 2001 return to the West End and Broadway in Noël Coward's Private Lives and Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman in 2010. Rickman is most remembered for his roles in films such as Love Actually (2003) and Sweeney Todd (2007) as well as voicing Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), and Absalom the Caterpillar in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010).

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What the Critics Say

"Rickman's voice is masculine and seductive; yet by altering tempo, modulating tone, he becomes Hardy's women and children, utterly compelling as he projects all ranges of emotion. His individualizing dialogue of the human-sized characters, that country chorus who form the backdrop of normality for Hardy's titanic lovers, is brilliant." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Might Be My Favorite Audiobook of All Time!

I love Thomas Hardy, and can't recommend his books highly enough, but this reading stands out because Rickman's enunciation is so perfect and his expression so dramatic. It perfectly suits the story in a way that is almost musical. The beginning of the book is like a painting in words and is so beautiful to hear. (but I think I could enjoy Alan Rickman reading the telephone book). It's wonderful to listen a book with so much poetry read so carefully. This is the story of Eustacia Vye, the most beautifully named character in all of fiction. I highly recommend it.
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- Doggy Bird

A Perfect Pairing

One of the most satisfying audio productions I've listened to--a case where the audio version was more enjoyable to me than the text because of the pefect pairing of 2 artists. Rickman's voice added a rich shading and emphasis to Hardy's already beautiful lyricism; it was almost hypnotic. I remember long passages (especially describing Egdon Heath) that challenged my attention when I first read this book, but with Rickman's reading, it all went by like beautiful scenery. One to sit down and experience leisurely.
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- Mel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-28-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios