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A couple of the stories in this collection have something I wouldn't have believed was possible: something almost resembling a happy ending. I love Thomas Hardy, but I do get tired of the relentless hammer of fate he uses to pound his characters, often with the help of contrived coincidences (or somebody's odd reluctance to speak up at The Key Moment).
Most of the stories here are not happy. Some, like "The Imaginative Woman" and "The Melancholy Hussar," end brutally. A couple, like "The Withered Arm," are a bit spooky - and end brutally. Relationships between husbands and wives are mostly stunted and ill-fated.
So it's not a collection to be undertaken lightly. But there are occasional touches of humor, as there sometimes are in Hardy, and a couple of people who escape the overall sentence of doom. Neville Jason does a wonderful job narrating, as he did with "Jude the Obscure." Overall, it doesn't pack the same punch as Hardy's longer works, but the stories make up an interesting sampler.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Thomas Hardy has earned his place in British literature. Without a doubt, he's a good writer. However, in most of his stories, the conflict is caused by an unhappy love affair and the fate of the characters lies in an extraordinary coincidence, which ultimately ruins their lives. The stories also tend to run on and could have been edited - a lot.
Neville Jason is a great reader, though. I would not hesitate to buy a book narrated by him.
Has Wessex Tales turned you off from other books in this genre?
No, but now that I understand this author's vision of life, I doubt I would listen to another book by Thomas Hardy.
Which scene was your favorite?
My favorite of the short stories was "The Three Strangers" - involving the search for an escaped prisoner in an isolated farming community. It is quite clever and is the only story in the collection that has a happy ending.
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
Any additional comments?
A better similar collection of short stories based on everyday happenings in the lives of ordinary people is: Rudyard Kipling's stories of India, Tales from the Hills.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Interesting to hear Hardy's writing used for shorter stories. Less familiar stories, although I understand that they were dramatized for television in the early 1970's
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Each story interesting in isolation and gripping as a whole.Excellent narration.I would recommend Wessex Tales as a good introduction to the works of Thomas Hardy to those not familiar with his particular style of writing.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful