- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 15 hours and 13 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: RNIB
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 23 July 2009
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQBC5G
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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A Pair of Blue Eyes Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audio Download, Unabridged
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In a cruel twist of fate, tragedy is brought upon the innocent, rather than on those who would be socially ambitious or fickle in love; for the vicar, still in love with his status in the class hierarchy, marries a rich woman, for advancement. Genuine affection is largely secondary, while in Elfride's case, she is not slow in following her father's ambitions for her to marry the more socially sophisticated Henry Knight, a lawyer and literary reviewer.
Stephen, returning from India and still longing to marry Elfride, discovers he is too late.
What is of key interest is the way all the characters then discover the harder realities caused by their putting a higher value on class status than upon genuine love.
Esssentially, it's a love triangle. Young Elfride is a frisky mare for whom the word 'ingenue' was invented. She mixes a 'coquettish hauteur' with a 'childish lack of confidence' but possesses those blue eyes that one looks 'into' rather than 'at'.
Her first flirtation is with home-boy made good, Stephen Smith. Smith, with red lips and boyish good looks, hails from the same coastal village as Elfride. He gets her as far as Paddington station before the affair comes off the rails and 'watery' Stephen makes way for the mature sophistication of Henry Knight.
Mr Hardy plays on a theme of the 'poison of suspicion' with loads of snobbery thrown in as the Victorian consequences of an Overnight Return on the Great Western Railway unravel.
It is less claustrophobic than some of his novels, with illuminating visits to London and Plymouth. Knight's epigram-itis is tedious and the ending, for me, doesn't wash. Small criticisms, totally outweighed by a recommended read.