When the great Thomas Hardy published this heart-wrenching novel, he had no idea it would be his last. But the book stirred so much controversy and protest, Hardy vowed to never write fiction again. Jude the Obscure tells the story of a stonemason, tricked into a loveless marriage, who craves a formal education and a finer existence. Separated from his wife, Jude begins a new life with his cousin, and the couple defies social convention at every turn.
This is why you listen, or why you should: Because a good performance is more than an easy way to "read" a book. And a great performance enhances the original, no matter how great (or not) it may be. Jenny Sterlin animates Hardy's characters without calling attention to herself - that is without raising thoughts of "here's a woman trying to sound like a man." She encourages continued listening when continued reading might be difficult; for example, when Sue and Jude are at their most exasperating. Sterlin's performance is recommended to all listeners - not just fans of Hardy or classic British literature. After all, this is why you listen. Or why you should.
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