• The Woodlanders

  • By: Thomas Hardy
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Length: 14 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (239 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $20.34

Buy for $20.34

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Set in the Dorset landscape familiar to Hardy novels, The Woodlanders concerns the fortunes of Giles Winterborne, whose love for the well-do-do Grace Melbury is challenged by the arrival of a dashing and dissolute doctor, Edred Fitzpiers. When the mysterious Mrs Charmond further complicates the romantic entanglements, marital choice and class mobility become inextricably linked.
(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 The Woodlanders

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    155
  • 4 Stars
    57
  • 3 Stars
    23
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    150
  • 4 Stars
    26
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    119
  • 4 Stars
    42
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    1

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

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Thomas Hardy lesser known work

I have never heard of this book until searching on this website. I found the story to be classic Thomas Hardy, even more lyrical and poetic then some of his other more famous works. As always, many twists and turns in the characters and experiences and a surprising ending. He introduces people and places through words, you can form an image of - the doctor, the yeoman, and his famous oral depiction of beautiful places, customs, and a common amiable village culture now lost in the mists of time. If you like Thomas Hardy, this is a definate listen.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A mature, unforced Hardy.

One of my favorite Hardy novels. Maybe, his best. Less preaching and display of erudition; more of a natural flow; wonderful characters, even when they are fulfilling "types;" great rustics.. Interesting, what I would call modern ending-but I won't spoil it. This is a mature writer who doesn't have to show-off or try too hard.

The narrator is outstanding. Great pacing and vocal quality. Avoids overly affected female voices. Captures the poetry in Hardy's writing.

Finally, why is Hardy still read when so many of the novels are sad or tragic-it's in the beauty of the language and the wisdom/truth of the speech. A book one can listen to repeatedly.

15 people found this helpful

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

Mesmerizing narration

This is one of Hardy's later novels (and #5 in my reading of Hardy), and in it he seems to revisit earlier themes and plot situations . . . as a result it didn't have the freshness for me that the others did. The characters felt more like archetypes and less like individuals, and I never felt particularly strongly about any of them. It seemed to me that Hardy set out the plot and started in on it without our really knowing the characters or having a chance to become invested in them.

That said, still I was mesmerized by this audiobook, and I attribute that to Samuel West's narration and Hardy's writing. The writing is as skillful and beautiful as ever, and I floated along on its waves. West's narration is just marvelous. He gives mere suggestions of vocal character, rather than the fully-fleshed vocal portraits given by other narrators. I like both types of narration, and it was a nice change to listen to. His voice is simply gorgeous, very pleasant to listen to, and he gives an extremely nuanced and intelligent reading.

The book did not resonate with me emotionally in the way that other Hardy novels have, but it's great writing, and well worth it.

9 people found this helpful

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

Your Typical Hardy Novel

This was a fairly typical Hardy novel: misplaced affections, broken hearts, overindulgent parents, class divisions, long lost lovers reunited, hints of scandal, etc. There's a bit of Gabriel Oak in Giles Winterborne (and, for that matter, a bit of Bathsheba Everdene in Grace Melbury). Still, I enjoyed the novel, which I listened to on audio, read by the wonderful Samuel West. The secondary female characters--particularly the spunky and loyal Marty South, but also Felice Charmond and Suke Damson--give the novel an added charm, but the conflicted, rather immature, manipulating and rather easily manipulated Grace Melbury really just needed a good smack.

5 people found this helpful

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

Words like fine lace

The intricacy of woven words described scenes and characters and were strung into the rope of a memorable story, I loved it. It should never end but continue for centuries. I want more.

3 people found this helpful

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

Amazing Story!

What did you love best about The Woodlanders?

The Woodlanders is an amazing story with so many thought provoking situations and issues concerning honor, honesty and forgiveness. How love can be selfish and selfless. The narration was excellent and the story hooked me from the beginning and I did not want to leave it until it finished.

2 people found this helpful

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

Excellent!

Gripping story. Beautiful & poetic language from Hardy.Samuel West was fabulous! Loved this audio book so much!

1 person found this helpful

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

Beautifully narrated

A vivid, perfectly balanced narration of a beautiful & underrated story. I'd like to hear more classics by Samuel West.

1 person found this helpful

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

Glorious writing

Thomas Hardy does magical things with the English language. There are descriptions of the woods, the various plants, fungi, etc that are so beautifully rendered. I find it so pleasurable to hear such phrases, such use of vocabulary - it’s sheer joy. The story itself is quite good, though typical of Hardy’s plots. The characters are well-developed. Though some aspects might seem archaic, to a large extent people and their foibles have not really changed, whether jealousies, snobberies, lust, and shallowness. Therefore, the story can still be enjoyed, regardless of its age. The narration is superb. Samuel West did a wonderful job of creating the different voices and accents that fit the characters. This book was a delight to listen to.

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

Good Story, Good Narration

I like Thomas Hardy. This one has similar themes to others I've read, but it's still unique. The Woodlanders is not as tragic as Jude or Tess. It's more along the lines of Madding Crowd in intensity. I'm not as happy with the outcome of this one as Madding Crowd, but it does represent realistic human feeling, so I can't fault it for not turning out differently. The story moves at a good pace. I never got tired of it and kept wanting to come back to it. I followed along in the written book to make sure I got it all. Hardy packs a lot into his writing. This narration is complete, with a few slight differences in word choices from the written version I have and a few times where paragraphs are omitted or modified, but nothing that constitutes abridgement. I enjoyed this reader's voice. I sampled other versions and I'm glad I chose this one. I found I much preferred having him read to me than reading myself, so never read ahead of the narration. I wasn't as impressed with his female voices though, which kind of affected my response to the female characters. Even the beautiful, sweet Grace sounded manly and harsh as a result of a male reader's interpretation. Whereas the male voices were all very natural sounding, which created a more sympathetic feeling towards them.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Christine Miskelly
  • Christine Miskelly
  • 01-25-16

Superb

Where does The Woodlanders rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I think this is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to. It certainly ranks somewhere at the top.

What did you like best about this story?

Hardy is a master of character. He paints wonderful images, portraying each person's hopes, aspirations and frailties and you find yourself sharing their pain and longing for a happy resolution to their predicaments. You see so clearly how behaviour was, and perhaps still is, constrained by protocol and the rules and norms of society. I also loved his descriptions of the woodlands and the natural world. It was surprisingly gripping.

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

The book was beautifully narrated. Samuel West has a delightful voice and the accents given to the various characters were totally credible. I will look for other books read by him. Excellent.

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

Redemption

Any additional comments?

I just wonder how I can follow this. There is a loss now that it is ended.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for linda
  • linda
  • 06-03-13

Excellent read

This is the best book I have read for a long time. I was engrossed from start to finish. Hardy so cleverly develops the characters and relationships that you feel you know them and have a connection from early on in the book.
I didn't want it to end.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Hugh M. Clarke
  • Hugh M. Clarke
  • 02-15-20

Thomas Hardy at His Best

I first read “The Woodlanders”, for ‘O’ level English Literature, in 1976. I was then too young to appreciate the depth and the poetry of the novel. It is a tragic tale, though not without it’s lighter moments. It explores many themes: the nature of love and loss; class and snobbery; belonging; tradition and independence; humans and nature. The lives of humans and of nature are intertwined, sometimes perilously. Nature supports and attacks - itself and those who live in its midst: “the lichen ate the vigour of the stalk, and the ivy slowly strangled to death the promising sapling”. Samuel West reads as well as he acts. His voice is appropriately compassionate and a comfort to listen to. In 1976, I might have understood more had he read it to me.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Nibor
  • Nibor
  • 05-28-16

Well loved Hardy novel, wonderful narration

What did you like most about The Woodlanders?

As always with Hardy, its great to immerse yourself in the problems of a bucolic community- very different from out 'issues' these days. I had to review to recommend Samuel West's sensitive narration, which made the book for me.

What other book might you compare The Woodlanders to, and why?

Any other Hardy!

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I realised that my problems are small compared to the past.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for ChrisAdair
  • ChrisAdair
  • 02-10-20

One of Hardy’s best

Since moving to Dorset I thought I best read a Thomas Hardy, and my wife recommended this one as a great start.
It is a terrific book in every sense, as you’d expect you get an incredible sense of the place, and life at the time, but more than that the story is gripping, characters so alive and real you really care about them.
Performance was excellent too
I’d highly recommend it even if you don’t live in Dorset !

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Martyn Casserly
  • Martyn Casserly
  • 09-27-19

Enjoyable

Very gentle and enjoyable. Lovely to listen to and do the ironing. x x x

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for MLDAUIE
  • MLDAUIE
  • 12-19-19

Not well known, but one of Hardy's best.

A classically simple tale of love and mistrust evocatively written and beautifully read by Samuel West. His reading catches the rhythm of the landscape in which the novel is staged. The plot, not dissimilar to Far From The Madding Crowd, focuses on the relationship of one woman with more than just man. As you progress through the novel you can feel the threads being gently tied together and begin to see the whole. The climax doesn't come at the end point and it's easy to think that the story is simply petering out ... but hen, the final piece of the puzzle is put in place, echoing back to the opening scene. I found the final page beautifully sad and poignant. Not as powerful as some of Hardy's but in its gentle 'Arcadian' rhythm I simply loved it.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Chris Bird
  • Chris Bird
  • 12-23-16

Superb.

Great, a brilliant story with all drawn characters. A much overlooked Hardy novel. Nicely read. I really loved it.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Annie
  • Annie
  • 12-01-19

I Love Hardy & This Was No Exception.

The Woodlanders is set in the Dorset landscape, that Hardy so often uses & so is familiar to us.

It is set, in the main, within a limited area & also with a limited cast, thus we are drawn in.

Giles Winterborne, loves Grace Melbury, who is well educated & comes from a more wealthy family. Her father has allowed the two to consider that they are to be together, as he once did a disservice to Gile’s deceased father, by marrying his true love.

However, a rival is on the scene, adored by the ladies, but less liked by the reader, Dr Edred Fitzpiers.

Mrs Charmond, who links both suitors, is also on the scene. Though older, she is very wealthy.

Will there be a blissful resolution?

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for S.J.BUCHAN
  • S.J.BUCHAN
  • 10-01-20

Another wonderful Thomas Hardy story.

Absolutely loved this, particularly the excellent narration by Samuel West.

I am a Hardy çonvert.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 10-26-21

Am I Missing the Last Chapter ?

Having recently laboured through modern writing with its overuse of words and descriptors , I was nice to get back to simple and concise writing. Also well complimented by good narration.

I was enjoying my 10 hours listening and pondered how the story would end. I was also engrossed in Grace’s life. Pondered also why this book did not get the accolades of Hardy’s other books.

The story ends abruptly and I thought I had advanced the books end by mistake. But alas - no.
It ends with much wondering when the story was going to take me. Was it up to me to fill the gaps?

Disappointed but not sorry. I listen with absolute wonderment as to how life was back then. How simple but not with the social classes and polite behaviours. Would love to spend a day in their shoes.