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"The foremost novelist of his time." (Geoffrey Harvey, The Complete Critical Guide to Thomas Hardy)
This is the best book I have read for a long time. I was engrossed from start to finish. Hardy so cleverly develops the characters and relationships that you feel you know them and have a connection from early on in the book.
I didn't want it to end.
As always with Hardy, its great to immerse yourself in the problems of a bucolic community- very different from out 'issues' these days. I had to review to recommend Samuel West's sensitive narration, which made the book for me.
Any other Hardy!
I realised that my problems are small compared to the past.
My favourite Book. Love Thomas Hardy.
Narrator brings all the characters to life, and brings so much atmosphere to the Woodland.
Loved every moment.
I think this is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to. It certainly ranks somewhere at the top.
Hardy is a master of character. He paints wonderful images, portraying each person's hopes, aspirations and frailties and you find yourself sharing their pain and longing for a happy resolution to their predicaments. You see so clearly how behaviour was, and perhaps still is, constrained by protocol and the rules and norms of society. I also loved his descriptions of the woodlands and the natural world. It was surprisingly gripping.
The book was beautifully narrated. Samuel West has a delightful voice and the accents given to the various characters were totally credible. I will look for other books read by him. Excellent.
I just wonder how I can follow this. There is a loss now that it is ended.
"Thomas Hardy lesser known work"
I have never heard of this book until searching on this website. I found the story to be classic Thomas Hardy, even more lyrical and poetic then some of his other more famous works. As always, many twists and turns in the characters and experiences and a surprising ending. He introduces people and places through words, you can form an image of - the doctor, the yeoman, and his famous oral depiction of beautiful places, customs, and a common amiable village culture now lost in the mists of time. If you like Thomas Hardy, this is a definate listen.
"A mature, unforced Hardy."
One of my favorite Hardy novels. Maybe, his best. Less preaching and display of erudition; more of a natural flow; wonderful characters, even when they are fulfilling "types;" great rustics.. Interesting, what I would call modern ending-but I won't spoil it. This is a mature writer who doesn't have to show-off or try too hard.
The narrator is outstanding. Great pacing and vocal quality. Avoids overly affected female voices. Captures the poetry in Hardy's writing.
Finally, why is Hardy still read when so many of the novels are sad or tragic-it's in the beauty of the language and the wisdom/truth of the speech. A book one can listen to repeatedly.
"Your Typical Hardy Novel"
This was a fairly typical Hardy novel: misplaced affections, broken hearts, overindulgent parents, class divisions, long lost lovers reunited, hints of scandal, etc. There's a bit of Gabriel Oak in Giles Winterborne (and, for that matter, a bit of Bathsheba Everdene in Grace Melbury). Still, I enjoyed the novel, which I listened to on audio, read by the wonderful Samuel West. The secondary female characters--particularly the spunky and loyal Marty South, but also Felice Charmond and Suke Damson--give the novel an added charm, but the conflicted, rather immature, manipulating and rather easily manipulated Grace Melbury really just needed a good smack.
This is one of Hardy's later novels (and #5 in my reading of Hardy), and in it he seems to revisit earlier themes and plot situations . . . as a result it didn't have the freshness for me that the others did. The characters felt more like archetypes and less like individuals, and I never felt particularly strongly about any of them. It seemed to me that Hardy set out the plot and started in on it without our really knowing the characters or having a chance to become invested in them.
That said, still I was mesmerized by this audiobook, and I attribute that to Samuel West's narration and Hardy's writing. The writing is as skillful and beautiful as ever, and I floated along on its waves. West's narration is just marvelous. He gives mere suggestions of vocal character, rather than the fully-fleshed vocal portraits given by other narrators. I like both types of narration, and it was a nice change to listen to. His voice is simply gorgeous, very pleasant to listen to, and he gives an extremely nuanced and intelligent reading.
The book did not resonate with me emotionally in the way that other Hardy novels have, but it's great writing, and well worth it.
"Words like fine lace"
The intricacy of woven words described scenes and characters and were strung into the rope of a memorable story, I loved it. It should never end but continue for centuries. I want more.
The Woodlanders is an amazing story with so many thought provoking situations and issues concerning honor, honesty and forgiveness. How love can be selfish and selfless. The narration was excellent and the story hooked me from the beginning and I did not want to leave it until it finished.
A vivid, perfectly balanced narration of a beautiful & underrated story. I'd like to hear more classics by Samuel West.
"an acquired taste"
It took me awhile to fall into the rhythm of nineteenth century writing after reading twenty first century best sellers. Woodlanders is an intricate, unforced story written by a master, an inimitable master relative to today's standards. The voice performance was fitting and provided a clear window through which to see the story unfold..
"A very realistic, beautiful book"
That it was realistic, especially for the time period, but in a way that is today still relatable and that the story is rather complicated both in story and emotion.
Some in these reviews have compared this book to 'Far from The Madding Crowd' and almost seem to be saying they're both sort of the same. They're not. They're quite individual. They have different stories and are both beautifully written. I love both but I seem to like this one a bit better. It's more complex. Don't let them put you off reading this one because you've read 'Far from The Madding Crowd.' If you liked that novel, you'll be missing out quite a lot here.
'Far From The Madding Crowd' because of the common theme of class conflict in love/marriage in both and that Hardy writes complexity of emotion and setting so well and it is apparent in both.
[[SPOILERS]] Probably the scene where Fitzpiers attends Giles in his fever and has to tell Grace that Giles is dying quickly along with the ensuing conversation after he passes.
I didn't have an *extreme* reaction but it did make me quite sad at parts and made me very pleased for a character at others. It made me snicker a couple times as well.
Samuel West was a wonderful narrator. Very nice to listen to and did a great job voicing the characters. The women didn't sound like they were done by Monty Python. Very natural.
"Another killer Hardy novel"
Sultry. Emersive. Tragic.
Marty. She's a strong character who makes her own way. She has a natural aptitude for caretaking and remains loyal and steadfast. Also, she's no one's pawn.
West's narration enhances the evocative, rustic setting and his languid reading increases the sense of horror as the book inexorably travels forward to it's tragic conclusion. (Like listening to a train crash in slow motion. :P)
The description of the woodlands is so detailed one can almost smell the the wood. The novel is also amazingly sexual for it's time (as it common in the latter Hardy novels). I haven't read any Hardy in a while and I pretty much inhaled this book, just couldn't put it down!
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