When John Durbeyfield discovers a family connection to the ancient Norman family, the D'Urbervilles, the fate of daughter Tess is transformed. Sent by her ambitious parents to visit her wealthy D'Urberville cousins, Tess attracts the attention of the unscrupulous Alec. Seduced and discarded by him and alone in the world, she finds work as a milkmaid, and the love of Angel Clare. Yet his love cannot accept the truth about Tess's past.
In a remote corner of early Victorian England, where traditional practices remain untouched by time, Bathsheba Everdene stands out as a beacon of female independence and self-reliance. However, when confronted with three suitors, among them the dashing Sergeant Troy, she shows a reckless capriciousness that threatens the stability of the whole community. Published in 1874, and an immediate best seller, Far From the Madding Crowd established Thomas Hardy as one of Britain's foremost novelists.
"Great reading/performance by Jamie Parker."
Eustacia Vye is cut off from the world in her grandfather's lonely cottage. Clym Yeobright 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.
Hardy's third novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, follows the story of Elfride Swancourt. The daughter of the rector of Endelstow, a sparse, sea-swept parish in Cornwall, Elfride is caught between two suitors of very different backgrounds: Stephen Smith, a young architect restoring the old parish church; and the respectable, older man of London society, Henry Knight. The blue-eyed and high-spirited protagonist must untangle the conflicting messages of her heart and her mind.
When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D'Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her 'cousin' Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future.
Tess of the d'Urbervilles is the 19th century novel lately thought to be one of the inspirations of E .L.James' Fifty Shades of Grey. It depicts the life of an impressionable, naive, somewhat educated young woman who yearns to be free to live her own life, but finds herself constricted by the bonds of the sexual, religious and socially hypocritical customs that have surrounded her from birth.
"A wonderful book only spoilt seconds after the end"
This is the story of Bathsheba Everdene, who inherits her uncle's farm, then surprises the villagers of Weatherbury by deciding to run it herself rather than hire a manager. 3 men vie for the affections of this independent young woman.
"Riveting Story, Superb Reading"
Michael Henchard gets drunk at a fair and sells his wife and child for five guineas to a sailor. Henchard proves to be violent, selfish, greedy and crude, yet at the same time he is magnanimous and humble.
"An old friend?."
Sexually innocent Jude Fawley is trapped into marriage by seductive Arabella Donn, but their union is an unhappy one and Arabella leaves him. Jude's welcome freedom allows him to pursue his obsession with his pretty cousin Sue Bridehead, a brilliant, charismatic free-thinker who would be his ideal soul-mate if not for her aversion to physical love. When Jude and Sue decide to lead their lives outside marriage they bring down on themselves all the force of a repressive society.
"A Pleasant Surprise for Me."
Thomas Hardy brings us an England that once existed but no more. It is rural, traditional, pastoral - a society of mannered conduct that flows like a deep river where powerful currents eddy and swirl. In this powerful novel of love and disillusion, Hardy's heroine is torn between the three men in her life. Passionate but capricious, her romantic involvements have fascinated generations of readers.
"Great story, terrible audio quality"
Michael Henchard, drunk at a country fair, sells his wife and baby daughter for five guineas. The following day, in despair and remorse, he forswears alcohol and sets out to redeem himself. In time, he becomes a respected merchant and eventually the mayor of the town. But Fate is not to be so easily appeased, and Henchard finds his past actions resonate through and destroy his plans for the future.
"The Mayor of Casterbridge"
This is the story of a young country workman obsessed by his ambition to become an Oxford student, interwoven with his fraught relationships with two women.
"Irritating in places"
The Napoleonic Wars are at their height, and upheaval and uncertainty plague British soil. In the midst of it all, the impoverished beauty Anne Garland finds herself at the center of a love quadrangle. She is torn between the persistent and annoying Festus Derryman, her womanizing childhood sweetheart Bob Loveday, and the reliable and thoughtful John Loveday, the eponymous Trumpet-Major. Who will she choose?
Set in the Dorset landscape familiar to Hardy novels, The Woodlanders concerns the fortunes of Giles Winterborne, whose love for the well-do-do Grace Melbury is challenged by the arrival of a dashing and dissolute doctor, Edred Fitzpiers. When the mysterious Mrs Charmond further complicates the romantic entanglements, marital choice and class mobility become inextricably linked.
The story of Tess, daughter of a poor peddler, is one of heartbreak and sorrow, deception and indecency. When sent to live with a wealthy family, the D'Urbervilles, who are not who they appear to be, Tess endures many hardships and abuse, while trying to make a fortune with the family to whom she believes she is related to. The abuse leads to her getting pregnant by a man named Alec.
Gabriel Oak is a young shepherd. With the savings of a frugal life and a loan, he has leased and stocked a sheep farm. He falls in love with a newcomer eight years his junior, Bathsheba Everdene, a proud beauty who arrives to live with her aunt, Mrs. Hurst. She comes to like him well enough and even saves his life once, but when he makes her an unadorned offer of marriage, she refuses; she values her independence too much and him too little.
Drunk on rum at a country fair, Henchard sells his wife to a sailor for five guineas. Unable to find them and overcome with guilt and remorse he vows to be teetotal for 21 years. Many years later his wife seeks him out in Casterbridge, where he has gained both wealth and the well respected position of mayor.
"The Mayor of Casterbridge."
Under the Greenwood Tree is an affectionate and youthful portrait of a world Hardy knew well - village life in 'Wessex' - in which a romantic tale is set against changing circumstances. The traditional feature of local music making performed by the village band and choir is challenged by the modern innovation of organ and organist providing music in the church.
Socially critical and emotionally complex, Tess of the d'Urbervilles is Hardy's masterpiece. It tells the story of Tess Durbeyfield, forced by her family's poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy d'Urbervilles. Violated by the son, Alec, her hopes of rebuilding her life with the gentle and bookish Angel Clare founder when he learns of her past.
"Tess of the D'Urbervilles"
The Woodlanders is vintage Hardy. The story revolves around the young woman Grace Melbury, who returns to the leafy world of Little Hintock and soon finds herself at the center of a number of tragic events. In penetrating, incisive and beautiful prose, Hardy tells a moving tale of unrequited love as fate and the constraints of society thwart the happiness of our heroine.
"Hardy perennial ."