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by Thomas Hardy
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From Library Journal
This novel, Hardy's last, is quite a delightful tale, almost comical in tone, and its wry, tongue-in-cheek flavor is beautifully realized by reader Robert Powell. It concerns sculptor Jocelyn Pierston and his 40-year quest for the incarnation of the ideal woman. This phantom eludes him as it flits from woman to woman most especially Avice Caro, his sweetheart at 20; then Avice's daughter, Anne Avice, who charms him when he is 40; and finally Avice the third, the granddaughter, whom he courts at 60. Alas, none of these romances reach fruition, and he loses both his artistic abilities and drive and his interest in the old quest. At 62, he can pass for 75, and in his old age he finds an old flame who sees him into his dotage. Hardy classed this work with his "Romances and Fantasies," and it is indeed almost an allegory or fable. Very enjoyable and excellently read, this is a good addition to fiction collections that feature important British writers. Harriet Edwards, East Meadow P.L., NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
As a novelist, Thomas Hardy is known for his somber tales of the brooding English Midlands and their denizens, though he also penned a number of what he called "romances and fantasies." This is one of them, and those familiar with RETURN OF THE NATIVE and JUDE THE OBSCURE will find this much lighter, even witty, while sharing the eloquence, strong characterizations, and pictorial detail of his more familiar fare. A noted sculptor, at heart a decent guy, finds his ideal "well-beloved" embodied temporarily in one woman after another, causing him numerous problems even as his passions breathe life into his art. We see him as a young man, in middle age, and in his 60s, in his infatuations for a country girl, then her daughter, and at last her granddaughter. Narrator Robert Powell delivers a tour-de-force rendition, shifting tones subtly for the three stages of our hero's life. These adjustments in maturity also communicate the gathering weight of the book's seriousness of purpose. Along the way, Powell superbly animates the characters and verbally contrasts the worldliness of the artist's professional milieu with the homely working-class roots to which our hero returns. Y.R. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
As the last of Hardy's novels to be published, The Well-Beloved has generated great scholarly interest recently. Partly autobiographical, it tells the story of the sculptor Jocelyn Pierston, whose search for the ideal woman in both Portland and London leads him into courtships with a Portland
woman, her daughter and her grand-daughter. This edition is the first to recover Hardy's final revisions to the text.
Jocelyn Pierston, a sculptor of growing fame, is determined to find his ideal in womanhood, a quest that has led to many fruitless encounters. For just as it seems he has found his heart's desire, disillusionment sets in and his burning love turns to ashes. Returning to Portland, his birthplace, he meets young, innocent Avice Caro. They are betrothed until a fateful meeting with the self-assured Marcia Bencomb changes the course of his life yet again. Please Note: This book is easy to read in true text, not scanned images that can sometimes be difficult to decipher. The Microsoft eBook has a contents page linked to the chapter headings for easy navigation. The Adobe eBook has bookmarks at chapter headings and is printable up to two full copies per year. Both versions are text searchable.
From the Publisher
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