The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

Audiobook read by Alan Rickman.

It has been quite a while since I read or listened to a new Thomas Hardy.

As with much Hardy, this is a tale of tough everyday rural life, with conflicts of passions and social mores of the time, on this occasion set in a rough moorland part of Dorset.

The principal characters, Eustacia Vye, Damon Wildeve and Clym Yeobright are caught in a sort of love triangle, each marrying frankly the wrong person. Poor Eustacia, she should have been born 100 years later, when she might have been able to live and love in a way that would both have fulfilled her and been socially acceptable. Typical of Hardy, this is a tale of pride and misunderstandings, in which the final tragedy is inevitable.

Through all this we are given an insight into the lives of those who make their living farming or cutting furze (gorse) in this bleak landscape.

This is considered one of Hardy’s major works, and rightly so. Listening to Alan Rickman’s wonderful narration, I often paused to admire the quality of the writing.

As this has not surpassed Far From The Madding Crowd in my estimation, I will give this 10 out of 10, and not 11.

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