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Tragedy haunts the works of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), whose fiction abounds in star-crossed lovers and other characters thwarted by fate or their own shortcomings. Hardy's outspoken criticism of Victorian society excited such profound controversy that the author abandoned fiction and in the 20th century published only poetry.
If this audiobook were a movie, it might drain the entire West End to replace the single voice of Tony Britton. Not only does he display extraordinary command of old dialects, but he also reveals deep understanding of the rural inhabitants of 18th-century Wessex. So skilled is the reading that it could be the colorful characters themselves sounding off at The Three Mariners in the center of Casterbridge. Of course author Hardy (Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Audio Reviews, LJ 5/15/92) has done his part. This novel is one of his most inspiring creations. It is about a common field laborer, Michael Henshard, who becomes a leader in this small market town and then‘through his own failure‘sinks back miserably to his humble beginnings. As this tragic figure moves across the landscape of Hardy's native Dorset, descriptions of the countryside are as evocative as paintings by John Constable and as lively as scenes by Peter Brueghel. Highly recommended.‘Jo Carr, Sarasota, Fla.