For Hardy, the loves and sorrows of ordinary characters are as much the material of history as any record of emperors and generals. The present tale is founded largely on testimony; the external incidents of the plot reproduce the recollections of elders known to Hardy in his childhood. If wholly transcribed, their recollections would have filled a volume thrice the length of The Trumpet-Major.
Instead, Hardy offers a complex weave of historical fact and fiction, a genre of his own that explores the subversive effects of ordinary human desires on systematized versions of history.
(P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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"Far Below Both Author's and Narrator's Quality"
I have been quite taken by the Hardy oeuvre: have both read and listened to more than ten books; have swooned over nearly all; but this one is by far the worst. I tried to get past Mr. Vance's sing-song and condescending narration but couldn't because there was not enough character draw to keep me engaged in this story. After 90 minutes, decided I'd given this enough time and deleted it from my phone..
"Charming but sometimes exasperating"
Anne Garland is an exasperating young woman whose heart flits back and forth between one Loveday brother and the other. It's not one of Hardy's more carefully plotted novels; the story doesn't so much develop as oscillate. But it retains all the country charm of Hardy's best work, and it has an unusual background for him: the countryside near a seaport on the southern coast of England during the Napoleonic wars. One of the Loveday brothers, in fact, serves on Nelson's ship at Trafalgar; and one of the characters has an unexpected encounter with no less a personage than King George III. Simon Vance's reading won't convert anyone who dislikes Hardy, but for lifelong Hardy fans like me, it's just right.
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