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  • The Mayor of Casterbridge

  • By: Thomas Hardy
  • Narrated by: Tony Britton
  • Length: 13 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (606 ratings)

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The Mayor of Casterbridge

By: Thomas Hardy
Narrated by: Tony Britton
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Summary

Exclusively from Audible

This audiobook is about the rise and fall of Michael Henchard. While out-of-work he gets drunk at a fair and impulsively sells his wife and baby for five guineas to a sailor. Eighteen years later he is reunited with his wife and daughter, who discover that he has gained wealth and respect and is now the most prominent man in Casterbridge. Though he attempts to make amends he is no less impulsive and once again loses everything due to bad luck and his violent, selfish and vengeful nature.

In this dramatic audiobook, Hardy sympathetically portrays a deeply flawed tragic hero, searching for love and acceptance from his community. It poses the question: do we shape our own fate or is the outcome inevitable? This tragic tale is played out against the vivid backdrop of a close-knit Dorsetshire town.

Thomas Hardy was an English writer and one of the most significant novelists and poets of the 19th and early 20th centuries. He was greatly influenced by Charles Dickens and William Wordsworth.

Narrator Biography

In 1952, Tony Britton came to major attention after his role as Rameses in The Firstborn at London's Winter Garden Theatre. A renowned classical stage star, he has also appeared in numerous British films since the 1950s; most notably Operation Amsterdam (1959), Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) and The Day of the Jackal (1973). In 1975, he won the Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Nearly Man. From 1983-1990, he starred in the long running BBC sitcom Don't Wait Up alongside Nigel Havers and Dinah Sheridan. In 2013 he performed in a Gala Performance of King Lear at the Old Vic, London. Over the years Tony has lent his soothing voice to a huge collection of audio productions including Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn and Anthony Trollope's An Old Man's Love.

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Mayor of Casterbridge

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent reading

Really impressive characterisations - I couldn't follow every word of the countrymen's conversations, so convincing is the accent but it made one feel as if amongst the listeners in the pub or street...really well read and of course a terrific story-telling. I'm now looking for other books by the same reader.

There is a review here that nearly put me off as it refers to trouble with the recording. I can only say that I found the recording quality faultless.

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellently read!

Tony Britten has an amazing range of voices for all the different characters. This book is excellently read and compelling listening.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Highly recommended

Outstanding narration, particularly the characterisation of Henchard and Farfray - rivetting.

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5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Riveting story and narration.

I found myself binge listening to this book. Although I had heard of it, and thought I knew the story, it turns out not. Hardy has way of drawing the reader into the story, weaving the characters together like a tapestry. Tony Britton brings those characters to life brilliantly. He takes on the dialect of each character so convincingly that at times I happily floundered in understanding of what had been said. But that added to the atmosphere and authenticity of those times. I have become a real fan of this author and now also of the narrator. Highly recommended to all who love the English prose and classic stories.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • TB
  • 26-05-16

Top stuff

You can't help getting drawn into the tangle of Michael Henchard's precarious existence, great yarn

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent narration of a classic

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes definitely.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Mayor of Casterbridge?

When the wife is sold off.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, it was difficult to stop listening as it was such a wonderful tale.

Any additional comments?

This was one of those books that I had wanted to read for a long time but couldn't spare the time to sit down to read a paper version. I am glad now that I didn't have the time as Tony Britton really brought the characters to life.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling, Cruel, But Ultimately Redemptive?

What made the experience of listening to The Mayor of Casterbridge the most enjoyable?

The large ensemble of characters - as portrayed by Tony Britton - are all clearly delineated and his choice of accents and way of speaking really bring out the nuances of their personalities, class and position in society, essential to the understanding of the story. Real tour-de-force performance from Mr Britton.

What did you like best about this story?

The story is not as unremittingly bleak as the most famous of Hardy's novels, and the glimpses of possible happiness (Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae at the end of the novel?) serve to emphasise the tragedy the main story of Michael Henchard. The imagery of the starved goldfinch as the trigger for Elizabeth-Jane's forgiveness (but her step-father's ignorance of that forgiveness) is unbelievably powerful.

Which character – as performed by Tony Britten – was your favourite?

Henchard - complex, proud to the point of stupidity, honourable, emotional and impulsive. One of literature's great characters and portrayed extremely well by Tony Britton. I have to say that it took a few minutes for me to settle to Tony Britton's narration (it was those horrible memories of the dreadful 80s comedies he did), but once I'd got past that his reading was flawless.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Beware of what you want, you may get it ...

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An old friend?.

Thirty years after first reading The Mayor of Casterbridge, returning to this one is like meeting up with an old friend and appreciating almost for the first time just how wonderful and complete Thomas Hardy?s world is. Locked against the interior monologue of Jane Austen, this is the story of implements and machinery, of farm stock and landscapes and how the bright sunny morning of a heath land and turn into the muddy mire of late afternoon. An easy pleasure from start to finish.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A masterclass of narration

In my view The Mayor of Casterbridge is probably Hardy’s greatest novel. Constructed like a Greek tragedy, it [spoiler alert] charts the downfall of Michael Henchard, a prosperous businessman, town councillor, and magistrate, from a combination of vindictive bloody-mindedness coupled with fateful mischance. The story is brilliantly crafted, and the agricultural economy of Dorset in the first part of the nineteenth century is brought to life with loving descriptive detail. To this is added the wonderfully observed dialect conversation between the farm-workers, servants, and others of the labouring class that inhabit the story.

But what makes this Audible version one of the very best in the catalogue is Tony Britton’s reading. His rendering of the workers’ conversations is a joy to listen to—no matter that, as a number of others have observed, the meaning of many of the words is unclear. Add to that his gentle lilting Scottish accent for Donald Farfrae, Henchard's nemesis, and the strongly domineering tones of Henchard himself, and this version becomes a positive masterclass of narration. I immediately sought other Hardy books narrated by Tony Britton and was very disappointed to discover that there were none, since he seemed to me to be the perfect ‘voice’ of Hardy characters.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Outstanding narration

Outstanding narration really lifted this audio book into something wonderful. I would highly recommend this audiobook.

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1 person found this helpful