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The Woodlanders

Narrated by: Samuel West
Length: 14 hrs and 16 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.
(P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The foremost novelist of his time." (Geoffrey Harvey, The Complete Critical Guide to Thomas Hardy)

What listeners say about The Woodlanders

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Molly Aultz
  • Molly Aultz
  • 12-06-2008

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.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • onelucent
  • 21-01-2011

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.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Bonny
  • 31-01-2016

Mesmerizing narration

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Deborah
  • 02-01-2012

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Teresa S Meyerer
  • 15-05-2015

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer
  • 16-04-2014

Amazing Story!

What did you love best about The Woodlanders?

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ms. G
  • 16-01-2018

Excellent!

Gripping story. Beautiful & poetic language from Hardy.Samuel West was fabulous! Loved this audio book so much!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Essence45
  • 02-08-2016

Beautifully narrated

A vivid, perfectly balanced narration of a beautiful & underrated story. I'd like to hear more classics by Samuel West.

1 person found this helpful

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  • C. E. Vandenelzen
  • 04-09-2020

Thomas Hardy at his best!!!

I can never decide whether this book or Jude the Obscure is my favorite...either way, this book is a must. I love the bucolic setting which is nearly a character itself, and the details of how the woodlanders lived in nature. Also, the presentation was superb! Before looking-up the reader I was convinced that either her or the producer was a Hardy scholar. After reading-up on Mr. West, I still don't know, but it really doesn't matter. It is an amazing performance - especially Marty South and Grace Melbury!

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  • Ekaterina
  • 06-05-2020

Great story and great performance.

I have to thank Samuel West for opening the world of Hardy for me. As a foreigner, I knew nothing about this writer and did not expect much. I was enthralled by the story, by the very honest and vivid style. And by West's reading. Thomas Hardy is one of my favourite British writers now. (I also must warn other not native speakers that you might want to have a dictionary on hand when listening. Hardy's writing is well beyond textbooks and TV shows. But first, let yourself be immersed in the story and charming style.)

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  • Christine Miskelly
  • 25-01-2016

Superb

Where does The Woodlanders rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I think this is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to. It certainly ranks somewhere at the top.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

What does Samuel West bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

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.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Redemption

Any additional comments?

I just wonder how I can follow this. There is a loss now that it is ended.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Nibor
  • 28-05-2016

Well loved Hardy novel, wonderful narration

What did you like most about The Woodlanders?

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.

What other book might you compare The Woodlanders to, and why?

Any other Hardy!

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I realised that my problems are small compared to the past.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Hugh M. Clarke
  • 15-02-2020

Thomas Hardy at His Best

I first read “The Woodlanders”, for ‘O’ level English Literature, in 1976. I was then too young to appreciate the depth and the poetry of the novel. It is a tragic tale, though not without it’s lighter moments. It explores many themes: the nature of love and loss; class and snobbery; belonging; tradition and independence; humans and nature. The lives of humans and of nature are intertwined, sometimes perilously. Nature supports and attacks - itself and those who live in its midst: “the lichen ate the vigour of the stalk, and the ivy slowly strangled to death the promising sapling”. Samuel West reads as well as he acts. His voice is appropriately compassionate and a comfort to listen to. In 1976, I might have understood more had he read it to me.

10 people found this helpful

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  • ChrisAdair
  • 10-02-2020

One of Hardy’s best

Since moving to Dorset I thought I best read a Thomas Hardy, and my wife recommended this one as a great start. It is a terrific book in every sense, as you’d expect you get an incredible sense of the place, and life at the time, but more than that the story is gripping, characters so alive and real you really care about them. Performance was excellent too I’d highly recommend it even if you don’t live in Dorset !

9 people found this helpful

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  • linda
  • 03-06-2013

Excellent read

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.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Martyn Casserly
  • 27-09-2019

Enjoyable

Very gentle and enjoyable. Lovely to listen to and do the ironing. x x x

6 people found this helpful

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  • MLDAUIE
  • 19-12-2019

Not well known, but one of Hardy's best.

A classically simple tale of love and mistrust evocatively written and beautifully read by Samuel West. His reading catches the rhythm of the landscape in which the novel is staged. The plot, not dissimilar to Far From The Madding Crowd, focuses on the relationship of one woman with more than just man. As you progress through the novel you can feel the threads being gently tied together and begin to see the whole. The climax doesn't come at the end point and it's easy to think that the story is simply petering out ... but hen, the final piece of the puzzle is put in place, echoing back to the opening scene. I found the final page beautifully sad and poignant. Not as powerful as some of Hardy's but in its gentle 'Arcadian' rhythm I simply loved it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Bird
  • 23-12-2016

Superb.

Great, a brilliant story with all drawn characters. A much overlooked Hardy novel. Nicely read. I really loved it.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Annie
  • 01-12-2019

I Love Hardy & This Was No Exception.

The Woodlanders is set in the Dorset landscape, that Hardy so often uses & so is familiar to us. It is set, in the main, within a limited area & also with a limited cast, thus we are drawn in. Giles Winterborne, loves Grace Melbury, who is well educated & comes from a more wealthy family. Her father has allowed the two to consider that they are to be together, as he once did a disservice to Gile’s deceased father, by marrying his true love. However, a rival is on the scene, adored by the ladies, but less liked by the reader, Dr Edred Fitzpiers. Mrs Charmond, who links both suitors, is also on the scene. Though older, she is very wealthy. Will there be a blissful resolution?

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tonje
  • 20-08-2019

A bit slow

It seems a bit slow to start, but the plot thickens mid way. Narrator does a marvellous job!

2 people found this helpful