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Two on a Tower Audio Download – Unabridged

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Audio Download, Unabridged, 25 Sep 2007
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read 'Two on a Tower' many years ago, and thought it was a good novel (for me, Hardy just cannot write a bad novel). Re-reading it again recently, I had forgotten just how good it was.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An interesting story centres on the classic relationship between a woman, her missing husband and the enigmatic younger man to whom she is drawn. As the female struggles to resolve her conflicting passion and sense of duty, the novel is as much a statement about the moral attitudes of the time as a story, Hardy delivers in his usual style.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're a Hardy fan, you'll know what to expect from one of his romances and Two on a Tower is pretty much along standard lines in that respect - fate, luck and poor judgement abound. The tale contorts its way through some unlikely circumstances and then to my mind, ends dramatically but implausibly. Yes, there are the occasional passages that describe the scenery but I felt this work to contain far fewer, rich evocations of the countryside than I was expecting. Although I appreciate the constraints of the period in respect of the portrayal of the relationship between the lead characters, I still felt that as a reader, I was left guessing at far too much, especially since love struggling across the divides of age or class was one of Hardy's fixations.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Two on A Tower may be considered one of Hardy's minor novels but it's a wonderful little novel in its own right about Lady Viviette Constantine, who has been abandoned by her husband and her love for poor astronomer Swithin St. Cleeve, who is almost ten years younger than her.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Thomas Hardy entitled his first attempt at a novel "The Poor Man and the Lady". The work was never published, and the manuscript is now lost, but its theme of love between people of different social classes is one he returned to time and time again. Its title could serve as an alternative title for several of his published novels, and several others, notably "Tess of the d'Urbervilles", could equally well be titled "The Poor Woman and the Gentleman".

"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.
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