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The Mayor of Casterbridge (Dramatised) Audio Download – Original recording

4.4 out of 5 stars 259 customer reviews

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Audio Download, Original recording, 31 Aug 2007
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Loved this book - what a great story showing all the various elements of the human character - greed, love, hate, struggles for power..... I could go on.

It is also a human tragedy, explained at its best by the inimitable Hardy and although it was written many years ago, it does show that human nature remains very much the same as it always was and you could almost put it into a modern setting and alter the scenery a little and it would be up-to-date, so to speak.

All of Hardy's books are great (I was first introduced to them whilst studing for 'O' Levels in the 1950's and have continued to read them again and again since)and although the grammar and syntax are quite dissimilar to that of today they are easy to read and the stories are great.
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Format: Paperback
When I began this book I have to admit that I didn't think the three words I'd be using to describe it would be drama, excitement and intrigue . In fact, I really had no intention of reading this book at all any time soon as a friend of mine had to study it in school as a teenager and told me it's the worst book she's ever read and that had stayed with me and filed into the "don't bother" part of my brain. So then, just before Christmas I saw or heard something about this book and that it was about a man who sells his wife and baby daughter at a fayre and immediately I thought that sounds intriguing and off I popped to pick up a copy. How glad I am that I did - The Mayor of Casterbridge has turned out to be one of my favourite books! I loved it!

Michael Henchard is a young man of twenty-one and walking the countryside of Dorset with his wife, Susan, and their baby girl, Elizabeth-Jane, looking for work. They decide to rest a while in a small village where there is a fayre and several drinks later, Michael starts loudly asking for bidders to buy his wife. After accepting 5 guineas from a sailor he wakes later to realise that they have actually gone and when he realises what he has done he swears not to drink a drop more of alcohol for another 21 years (as long as he has so far lived). He starts to make enquiries about where the sailor and his family may have gone but nobody knows who he is and Michael is too ashamed of his conduct to search too effectively and he sets off on the road once more, alone.

The story then fast-forwards eighteen years and Michael is now the Mayor of Casterbridge (modelled on Dorchester in Dorset).
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By A Customer on 6 April 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I received this book as a Christmas present along with various other books. I left this one to last because I thought it might be hard going. It turned out to be one of the best books I've ever read, The characters are brilliant, my interest was held the whole way through, and it most definately wasn't a hard read. Now forTess of the D'urbervilles!
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Format: Paperback
Beginning a Hardy novel is always something of a bittersweet experience. The characters are slowly and carefully introduced, the scene beautifully and evocatively set and quickly you find yourself deeply immersed in nineteenth-century Wessex. And yet, even as you begin to feel yourself almost a part of the story you are filled with a sense of imminent doom. That a protagonist, possibly several, will die, is an absolute given. Hardy's fascination with predestination, whether or not it exists and whether or not, if it does exist, we humans have any agency to influence it, is starkly revealed here. In Michael Henchard he creates a man full of `character', displaying, by turns, impetuosity, reflection , malice, regret, hate and love. If some of these appear contradictory then this is because they are, because such contradictions lie in all people, particularly warm-blooded, instinctive people like Henchard. Yet, despite this, or perhaps because of it he is unable to prevent himself tumbling inexorably towards tragedy.

No clear conclusions about the nature of fate are reached. It is not clear, at least not to me, what Hardy really thought about it, but it is very apparent that he meditated deeply on the subject.

There is much more to this novel besides, the town of Casterbridge, with its Roman ruins, agrarian economy and civic machinations, is brought beautifully to life. Moreover, in addition to Henchard, Hardy introduces us to several other very memorable characters, not least Elizabeth-Jane who is arguably the novel's true hero or heroine. Quietly, solidly she observes, reads and grows until finally she achieves a degree of happiness that is forever denied to most of those around her, including of course Henchard, her unfortunate `father'. Not an easy read by any standards, but the characters and themes in this book are sure to linger with you long after you close the final page
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
On the quiet, I'm a bit of a fan of novels of the late 19th and early 20th century. Thomas Hardy I would imagine needs little introduction to most and I expect that many of those reading this will have come across his work at school. I even liked him then!

Briefly, this is a story of a west country man's fortunes throughout his adult life and we experience his ups and downs. By no means is he a perfect character. But despite having many faults we are still drawn to him, I think because when it really matters, he does the right thing.

Of course a lot has been written about this novel, from the splotchy pens of generations of school children to the typewriters and latterly the computers of professional reviewers and I doubt I could aspire to adding much new. However, I think it's worth noting that Hardy's language in relating this tale is fascinating. Looking at it in the second decade of the 21st century, I find the words and phraseology fascinating. There are words that over time have changed in meaning, some have disappeared from use and phrases that you can discern from their surroundings that you therefore understand and only serve to delight. For this reason, this book is a historical record of a past time, not only in the way that they live, but of the ever changing English language. But even further than that, we learn how the poor were treated with a rudimentary facsimile of a welfare system and also the state of development of the criminal court system in that period.

But above all, I'm sure that Hardy wanted to produce a book that provides entertainment, interest and provokes thought. Through the ages, it has done that and still does.
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