Listen free for 30 days

Listen with offer

Thousands of incredible audiobooks and podcasts to take wherever you go.
Immerse yourself in a world of storytelling with the Plus Catalogue - unlimited listening to thousands of select audiobooks, podcasts and Audible Originals.
£7.99/month after 30 days. Renews automatically. See here for eligibility.
Two on a Tower cover art

Two on a Tower

By: Thomas Hardy
Narrated by: Michael Kitchen
Try for £0.00

£7.99/month after 30 days. Renews automatically.

Buy Now for £15.99

Buy Now for £15.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Listeners also enjoyed...

The Trumpet-Major cover art
Life's Little Ironies cover art
Classic Romance cover art
Desperate Remedies cover art
Far from the Madding Crowd & The Return of the Native cover art
A Laodicean cover art
Great Expectations cover art
A Pair of Blue Eyes cover art
Under the Greenwood Tree cover art
The Pickwick Papers: Dickens on Dickens cover art
Poor Miss Finch cover art
The Woodlanders cover art
The Heart of the Matter cover art
The Silmarillion cover art
Romola cover art
Dracula [Audible Edition] cover art

Summary

Exclusively from Audible

Two on a Tower is Hardy's ninth novel and contains perhaps his most complete use of the theme of love across the class and age divide, to beautifully depict Hardy's reverence for science and astronomy.

The unhappily married Lady Constantine breaks all the rules of social etiquette when she falls in love with young Swithin St. Cleeve, an astronomer and her social inferior. Despite their differences that society deems unacceptable, together, from an astronomical observatory, the lovers 'sweep the heavens'. But work, ambition and the pressures of the outside world intrude upon the pair.

Swithin is faced with a cruel choice. The death of Lady Constantine's husband leaves them free to marry but it's not that simple. He has the option of furthering his education with an inheritance that will propel his career into the highest levels of astronomical science. Does he choose love or ambition?

Within Two on a Tower, Hardy creates a wonderful and timeless contrast between the infinite reaches of the universe and the infinitesimal scale of human affairs. Hardy's intention, in his own words, was to 'set the emotional history of two infinitesimal lives against the stupendous background of the stellar universe'.

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

Michael Kitchen is an accomplished actor of stage and screen. He is best known for his role as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle in the ITV drama series Foyle's War (2002-2015). He has also starred as Bill Tanner in the Bond films GoldenEye (1995) and The World Is Not Enough (1999) as well as Berkeley Cole in the film Out of Africa (1985). Other notable television appearances have included roles in BBC Four's critically acclaimed comedy series Brian Pern (2017) and Channel 4's comedy Hacks (2012). Michael Kitchen's stage performances have included Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Shakespeare Company and roles in Tom Stoppard's plays On the Razzle and Rough Crossing. He has narrated many classic and contemporary audiobooks including Thomas Hardy's Two on a Tower, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Robert Lewis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"The foremost novelist of his time." (Geoffrey Harvey, The Complete Critical Guide to Thomas Hardy)

What listeners say about Two on a Tower

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    96
  • 4 Stars
    60
  • 3 Stars
    23
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    108
  • 4 Stars
    44
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    77
  • 4 Stars
    51
  • 3 Stars
    24
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Misogynistic

I initially enjoyed this love story with the background of astronomy. Most of Hardy’s novels have given me hours of pleasure. However…. Slight spoiler coming up:
It’s hard for a modern woman to see that in Hardy’s time, a woman was over the hill at age 35, and not worthy of a man’s love, let alone passion. The ending, quite frankly, is ridiculous, and hugely disappointing. Putting women on the scrap heap for not looking like a fresh rose, and having them die for the sake of a convenient ending is really cheating the reader who has invested time in the novel. Not that endings have to be love, sweetness and light, on the contrary, but this was really a cop-out, not worthy of Hardy. Also, no mention whatsoever of the fate of the little boy, whether good or bad. A big oversight. Much as I love Hardy’s clear description of his times, thumbs down for this one.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Beautiful prose

An engrossing story that draws you in although the main characters are thinly drawn. By chapter 32 I was beginning to lose sympathy with the main character and felt there would never be a resolution. However patience paid off and the ending was fitting. Much is left India and left to the imagination. It is perhaps not one of Hardy's best works but it nonetheless impressive and far superior to much modern fiction.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

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

Autumn listening

What a treat, on an Autumn day, to listen to this classic yet little-known Hardy tale impeccably read by Michael Kitchen. In keeping with the theme of the story, it was even nicer to listen in the garden in the evening whist gazing at the heavens .

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

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

I really enjoyed this…

…despite the other reviews. Probably not typical Hardy, but a very entertaining listen nevertheless. Well read

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

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

Nearly as good as the great Hardy novels

If you like Hardy it is well worth listening to this lesser known work. It is fully of beautiful language and delightful observations. Perhaps not quite as good as the Woodlanders, but that may be because the narrator wasn't quite so good. Kitchen is a good reader but very mannered and his mannerisms get tiring after a while.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

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

Excellent story

I really enjoyed this book. It kept me listening .The ending was rather unexpected. The reader was excellent.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

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

A good old fashioned love story

What made the experience of listening to Two on a Tower the most enjoyable?

The would they, won't they element.

What other book might you compare Two on a Tower to, and why?

Not sure. It stands on its own

What does Michael Kitchen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Michael is a great narrator, brings the story to life.

Any additional comments?

Great story, with a twist at the end

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

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

Lovely twists and turns but not Hardy’s best.

Michael Kitchen reads this beautifully, and never allows the slightly overblown dialogue to sound forced. Hardy often has a contemporary feel - not this one. The very last sentence is worth the wait, I felt!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

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

Not the best of Hardy, but typically dour

Michael Kitchen reads this so beautifully and his characterisation is superb, especially of the country folk, that it was tempting to trudge on with this long and lugubrious tale of woe. In fairness, I made the mistake of reading a plot synopsis and therefore felt I couldn’t bear going through the rest of the book. Hardy is known for his fateful sadness and this is no exception. The prose is beautifully crafted and the descriptions vivid, yet the fate of the characters is simply implausible. As the story progresses, the twists become less likely. I gave up.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

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

Meandering but well read

The story went on and on but as a lover of Hardy, I was happy to see it through (or hear it through…). Michael Kitchen’s story-telling helped make this novel work as an audiobook as his voice is rich and his pace perfect. One can tolerate a slightly tedious plot if it is being read aloud to you by a skilled reader!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!