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The Return of the Native

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
By: (1840-1928)

Amidst the fireworks and celebrations of Guy Fawkes Night, a covered wagon winds its way along the dark country heath land. Hidden at the back is a young woman who is running away from a thwarted marriage ceremony with the local innkeeper. The driver of the wagon, a young herdsman, is secretly in love with her but is so devoted that he vows to help her reunite with her useless lover. The opening scenes of Thomas Hardy's sixth novel The Return of the Native, form the backdrop to this story of a profoundly flawed woman and the men who fall in love with her.

The book itself had a controversial debut, something which greeted many of Hardy's novels at that time. It first appeared in serial form in 1878 in the Belgravia magazine, which was notorious for its risqué and sensational content. The radical themes explored by Hardy in the novel prevented many publishers from daring to accept it. However, today it is considered one of the finest Victorian novels and one that marks a great shift in the moral universe of the time.

Set in the famous, fictional Hardy country Wessex, The Return of the Native also takes place here in this imaginary county of his own creation. This novel's action is focused in Egdon Heath in Wessex, and occurs across the time frame of exactly one year and one day. Probably for the first time in English literary history, a book was written that takes a frank and objective look at concepts like illicit physical and romantic relationships, the conflict between human impulse and societal restraint and the tragedy that awaits those who fly in the face of convention. For Hardy, these were enduring themes that he explored time and again, despite the moral outrage that greeted most of his novels. Unforgettable characters like Diggory Venn, the “reddleman” who rescues his beloved Thomasin Yeobright from a failed elopement, the haughty black haired beauty Eustacia Vye, the bitter and superstitious Susan Nunsuch and many more make this a truly panoramic novel.

The novel is also remarkable for its deep roots in country customs, folklore and legends which give it a matchless feel of the atmosphere and authenticity. Hardy's scrupulous plotting, his compassion and humanity, his own experiences of returning to his native Brockhampton after facing the anger of the moral brigade in London all combine to make this book a most valuable experience.

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Reviews (Rated: 4 Stars - 22 reviews)

Reviewer: - March 21, 2017
Subject: Return of the Native
The woman reader is Brilliant! As plaintive as the text she reads. A true artist. Thank you.
Reviewer: - September 14, 2016
Subject: Return of the Native
Yes, I admit the first reader was lacklustre but the gentleman who read was excellent. I am so glad I persevered. Wonderful story.
Reviewer: - September 3, 2016
Good book, but the reader of the preface, ch 1 and ch 2 and some at the end is terrible!
Reviewer: - December 4, 2015
Subject: Return of the Native
A beautiful story spoiled by the monotonous style of the narrator. Seems she has never read Hardy. Must be re-read by some more acceptable reader.
Reviewer: - October 6, 2015
Subject: Drugs... serious drugs
I really, really tried to listen to this book. But that woman!! I don't even have the words...
Reviewer: - September 1, 2015
Who in the world approved this woman to read this audio book? Did they bother to listen to her? I couldn't tolerate her for more than two minutes! Ugh!!
Reviewer: - January 19, 2015
Subject: no
I listened to the intro on the Prelude...for about 5 seconds. Sorry, but I can't listen to that type of voice for hours on end...
Reviewer: - October 20, 2014
Subject: monotone
Never read a Hardy book and felt narrator's storytelling lacked interest.
Reviewer: - February 28, 2014
Enjoyed the story. The reading gets better as you get in to the book.
Reviewer: - February 5, 2014
Subject: Awful, simply awful
I'm a Thomas Hardy fan and read and re-read most of his books but with this narration I can not understand & withstand it.
Reviewer: - November 22, 2013
Subject: Return of the Native
Is the first reader for real? Surely she's not! Maybe she's making a joke of some kind?
Reviewer: - October 14, 2013
Subject: Narrator
I could not understand this book because of the narrator
Reviewer: - September 22, 2013
Subject: Return of the Native
The first reader's mispronunciations and false cadences suggest she has no understanding of the book!
Reviewer: - July 25, 2013
The reader at the beginning is very annoying. I stopped listening to it because of her voice.
Reviewer: - July 6, 2013
Subject: Review
I very much enjoyed this book.
Reviewer: - April 12, 2013
like others have said, first reader is SO off-putting but others are great.
Reviewer: - March 28, 2013
I loved the book! Wonderful and very sad story and wonderful again.
Reviewer: - March 27, 2013
The woman reader from the first and the last needs not to read books out loud.
Reviewer: - March 27, 2013
First reader should be changed!
Reviewer: - February 22, 2013
The book was very interesting, but the first reader made it absurdly difficult to listen. Had to look up those chapters in print. Thank you to the other readers, you were amazing :)
Reviewer: - February 13, 2013
First reader was really bad, and even after listening to 6 chapters of the first book, it doesn't seem interesting enough to keep my attention.
Reviewer: - November 15, 2012
The first reader was awful, however, after the first 2 chapters it changes to a much more suitable reader for the rest of the book

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