Book pak BBC Audiobooks America/ Chivers 2001
CS ISBN 0754006514 $54.95 Six cassettes
As a novelist, Thomas Hardy is known for his somber tales of the brooding English Midlands and their denizens, though he also penned a number of what he called "romances and fantasies." This is one of them, and those familiar with RETURN OF THE NATIVE and JUDE THE OBSCURE will find this much lighter, even witty, while sharing the eloquence, strong characterizations, and pictorial detail of his more familiar fare. A noted sculptor, at heart a decent guy, finds his ideal "well-beloved" embodied temporarily in one woman after another, causing him numerous problems even as his passions breathe life into his art. We see him as a young man, in middle age, and in his 60s, in his infatuations for a country girl, then her daughter, and at last her granddaughter. Narrator Robert Powell delivers a tour-de-force rendition, shifting tones subtly for the three stages of our hero's life. These adjustments in maturity also communicate the gathering weight of the book's seriousness of purpose. Along the way, Powell superbly animates the characters and verbally contrasts the worldliness of the artist's professional milieu with the homely working-class roots to which our hero returns. Y.R. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine [Published: DEC/ JAN 02]
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