THE STORY is well known, but listening to an unabridged reading will always illuminate fresh themes and details. It also highlights the range of Hardy's writing, which can move from the 'opalised light of the moon' in heavenscapes, through sweeping landscapes down to a single dewdrop. Anna Bentinck conveys superbly Hardy's nuances of tone from the locals' country accents to Angel Clare's fastidious correctness. D'Urberville sounds kindly - rather than just a wheedling cad - which gives the listener deeper understanding and sympathy for Tess's predicament. - Rachel Redford, The Oldie --jjj
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