• Under the Greenwood Tree

  • By: Thomas Hardy
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 5 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (225 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of the most popular of Hardy's novels, this charming pastoral idyll is a lightly humorous depiction of life in an early Victorian rural community. Drawn from Hardy's childhood memories, it represents, he said, "a true picture at first hand of the personages, ways, and customs which were common in the villages."

The story delicately balances the concerns of the Mellstock parish choir with a romance between Dick Dewy, a member of the choir, and Fancy Day, the village schoolmistress. While the choir battles for its survival against the new vicar's mechanical church organ, personal conflicts arise over the anachronistic customs of tradition.

Public Domain (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"It bubbles with good humor and joy in living." (James Gibson, Thomas Hardy: A Literary Life)

What listeners say about Under the Greenwood Tree

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Lighter Hardy

A charming novel set in the Yorkshire countryside, devoid of the usual darkness typical of other Hardy novels, such as Jude the Obscure, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Far from the Madding Crowd, and others. As always, his characters are well rounded, displaying very human flaws that make them all the more endearing. Fancy Day, despite her love for Dick Dewey, can't resist flattery and a chance to show herself off; Dick himself has a bit of a jealous streak. But overall, Hardy creates that wonderful sense of community and slower-paced days that we seem to long for in our times.

8 people found this helpful

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Happy surprise!

I was looking for something that would make me smile during these times and I wasn't expecting it from Thomas Hardy. I recently tried to reread Tess and had to put it back down.. Almost from the get-go the dialog had me grinning and giggling. I needed a story without angst.. The characterizations by the narrator were wonderful and so full of fun.

5 people found this helpful

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One of Hardy’s Best

Hardy knows how to serve a love story around a village. This is no exception.

3 people found this helpful

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A sensitive description of society

Thomas Hardy demonstrates sensitivity for the feelings of every type of person, even of plants and animals. Many people have this gift but very few are as brilliant as Hardy in putting these sensitivities into words and so sharing this rare quality with others, readers who lack these feelings but enjoy being made aware of them.

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Not for me

Read it, didn't like it. Wanted to read something by Thomas Hardy, This was free and short. Anyway, not for me.

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Classic humour

Sheer delight to listen to this classic with Simon Vance's gentle and sharp narration of the nuances.

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Volume too low.

Book is not audible. I can’t hear it. I thank that it was not recorded correctly.

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I didn't love the main characters

I felt like Dick and Fanny were both unlikable characters. Fanny was silly and shallow and in the beginning I felt like Dick did some disrespectful things. For example, in one scene he accidentally placed his hand on Fanny's at a dinner party when they barely knew each other and then left it there, which put Fanny in a very awkward situation with the public setting. It felt like he was using the setting to take advantage of her. Other than than my bleh feelings about these two, the book was entertaining enough.

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This one fell flat

I’m a huge Hardy fan but this one was just meh. It passed the time but wasn’t engaging for me. The characters were superficial, the jealousy and back and forth between the main characters was tiresome and tedious. I read to escape reality and this was like watching a reality show.

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Quaint and amusing

I did chuckle as I listened. My first approach to Thomas Hardy’s work has revealed a charming, witty tale of English village life. Loved it.

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  • Ruth
  • 08-12-21

Imperfect Characters, But So Real

A good performance by Simon Vance, as always.

The story itself isn't as striking as some in literature. While it looks ordinary, one don't find it boring but so true and thought-provoking.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Susannah Kennedy
  • 02-27-19

Wonderful performance by Simon Vance of a superb book.

This was one of the best readings of a Hardy novel. Simon Vance skilfully distinguishes male and female voices and brings out the nuances of the characters. Hope for more read by him!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ali Elmes
  • 06-20-22

A bit slow but rich in description

As a novel with a heroine and hero it is rather lacking in pace and storyline. It portends to be a romance with unrequited love and anguish, but doesn’t hit the highs or the lows. The heroine is a flighty silly girl without much substance to her and right up to the end the books leaves me wanting more …. something meaningful. It feels it was written by formula. I certainly won’t listen again.