The Return of the Native

  • by Thomas Hardy
  • Narrated by Alan Rickman
  • 15 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)
Exclusively from Audible
Set on Egdon Heath, a fictional barren moor in Wessex, Eustacia Vye longs for the excitement of city life but is cut off from the world in her grandfather's lonely cottage. Clym Yeobright who has returned to the area to become a schoolmaster seems to offer everything she dreams of: passion, excitement and the opportunity to escape. However, Clym's ambitions are quite different from hers, and marriage only increases Eustacia's destructive restlessness, drawing others into a tangled web of deceit and unhappiness.
Considered a truly modern story due to its sexual politics and hindered desires it still holds relevance to audiences today. There is a tension between the symbolic setting of the heath and the modernity of the characters that makes the listener question our freedom to the shape our lives as we wish. Are we always able to live our dreams?
Like George Eliot, Hardy was a Victorian realist whose novels and poetry were greatly influenced by Romanticism, especially the poet William Wordsworth. His critical thoughts on Victorian society can be seen throughout much of his work.
Narrator Biography
Multi-award winning actor and director Alan Rickman, famous for roles such as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films and the Sherriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), had a varied career that included performing on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company in modern and classical theatre productions. In America, he gained recognition for his Broadway appearance in Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1985) and later his role in Die Hard (1988) made him internationally famous. Other notable performances included his 2001 return to the West End and Broadway in Noël Coward's Private Lives and Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman in 2010. Rickman is most remembered for his roles in films such as Love Actually (2003) and Sweeney Todd (2007) as well as voicing Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), and Absalom the Caterpillar in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010).

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What the Critics Say

"Rickman's voice is masculine and seductive; yet by altering tempo, modulating tone, he becomes Hardy's women and children, utterly compelling as he projects all ranges of emotion. His individualizing dialogue of the human-sized characters, that country chorus who form the backdrop of normality for Hardy's titanic lovers, is brilliant." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Marvellous.

I could listen to Alan Rickman read the blurb off a tin of paint, but he is wonderful reading this, and the story itself is a gem of plotting and pathos to rival any moden storyline, and the touches of humour are typical Hardy. As soon as I'd finished it, I listened to it again.
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- Pauline

Has made me love Hardy

To be honest I only chose this because I wanted to wallow in Alan Rickman's mellifluous tones, and reviews said it was not as depressing as some other Hardy (I had bad school memories of Tess & Jude). I am so glad I chose this. Not only is the Rickman reading highly skilled, a great pleasure to listen to and one which makes meaning crystal clear, but the plot (love, betrayal, gambling) is gripping. I had not realised how well Hardy understood human feelings, nor had I appreciated his true sympathy for a threatened environment. A great discovery.
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- JUDITH

Book Details

  • Release Date: 28-05-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios