- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 51 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 25 Sept. 2007
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQ8SWG
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Two on a Tower Audio Download – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
The focus is almost entirely on the 'two' of the title, the astronomer, Swithin St.Cleeve and his lover, Viviette Constantine, which provides Hardy with many opportunities to describe the heavens and to contrast the immensity of the skies with the two protagonists' small and enclosed world. I use the word 'enclosed' deliberately, as Swithin and Viviette's affair must be kept secret. Their isolation is further reinforced by their meeting most often at night or on the tower.
There are the usual Hardy trademarks, for example, descriptions of the environment in which the characters are located or the use of coincidence and chance; but what struck me most was Hardy's evocation of sound: the moving of fir trees in the breeze, the scraping of a fingernail on a window, the sound of Viviette's dress brushing against the sides of the tower as she descends its spiral staircase.
An absorbing reading experience.
This Kindle version that I downloaded didn't have any obvious formatting issues and in that respect I can say that it was perfectly readable but the tale itself left me feeling somewhat unmoved and I think you could position it a long way down your list of 'Hardy I must read' without regretting it.
Admittedly, it does not maintain the lyrical fascinating beginning where Viviette first discovers Swithin's astronomy and they conduct his studies together. I have no interest in astronomy and yet when Swithin obtains a grand piece of equipment, it is exciting. His love for astronomy is the highlight of the book, as well as his tragic flaw, and Swithin is one of my favourite Hardy males. In some ways he's a bit like Jude but more intelligent and sympathetic.
A lot of melodramatic contrivances follow but the novel is still a pageturner. Anyway, Shakespeare used more contrivances than anyone, and Hardy openly states that the novel is a 'romance', not to be viewed realistically.
If you take the novel seriously, however, there are a lot of interesting themes to be discovered. The discussions of science were incredibly topical for nineteenth-century readers and still are now. Through Viviette, Hardy reveals the plight of respectable women forced to remain constant and isolated when men can simply get up and go. It's a beautiful depiction of a sad truth of the times. The forbidden relationship is dealt with nicely: one can sense Viviette's awkwardness when people refer to Swithin as a boy or 'youth'.
This may be minor Hardy but it's still fascinating. It is also completely charming- later in his career, Hardy lost some of this charm, hence why he is thought of as depressing and bleak.
"Two on a Tower" falls into the "poor man and the lady" category. The lady in this case is Viviette, Lady Constantine, the unhappily married wife of a country squire, and the poor man is Swithin St. Cleeve, a penniless young astronomer. The two meet and fall in love when Viviette gives Swithin to use a tower on her country estate for his observations. The death of Viviette's husband Sir Blount while on a hunting expedition in Africa leaves the lovers theoretically free to marry, but as so often happens in Hardy circumstances conspire to force them apart. They are quite literally "star-crossed lovers"; Hardy himself said that his intention was to "set the emotional history of two infinitesimal lives against the stupendous background of the stellar universe", and the book shows evidence of his own interest in astronomy.
The most important factor preventing their union is the force of social convention. Swithin and Viviette are divided both by class and age, she being some eight years older than he. The class structure of Victorian England was far more complex than a simple rich/poor or upper/lower divide, and the complexities of that structure are exemplified by the positions in which both main characters find themselves.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Infatuation as simplistic love affair with twists and turns. Titled lady falls for young astronomer. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Peter Steward
Another great read by Hardy. Romantic in places and unbearably sad in others. A must read for all Hardy fans.Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
Visited Hardy's cottage and house on a weekend away and got swept up with the moment. Couldn't get into it.Published 19 months ago by NOTiFY
typical Thomas Hardy book. Tends to waffle on but the story was good and enjoyable. older woman falling for a younger man.Published on 29 Jun. 2014 by jackie vaugha n