The Hand of Ethelberta (unabridged)

Audio Sample

Thomas Hardy

The Hand of Ethelberta

Read by Fenella Woolgar


Opportunistic, shrewd and beautiful, Ethelberta resolves to disguise her humble beginnings and elevate her position in society. Crafting her career as a society poet and staging her family as her servants, she proves admirably adept at sustaining her own web of deceit as she reinvents herself and navigates the attentions of four different suitors. The wealthiest is not the one she loves… what will she do? This is a light-hearted, urban tale, offering a different side of Thomas Hardy. The master of pastoral realist novels was presenting a ‘somewhat frivolous narrative’, which nevertheless displayed his acute consciousness of class divisions and continues to delight those who discover it within his better-known works.

  • Running Time: 16 h 01 m

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    Digital ISBN:978-1-78198-428-4
    Cat. no.:NA0563
    Produced by:John Foley
    Edited by:Andrew Riches
    Released:March 23
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Fenella Woolgar gives an exemplary performance of this gentle comic novel, which skews the English class system. Ethelberta is a beautiful and clever young widow who is struggling to provide financial support for her nine siblings and invalid mother. When her efforts as a poet fail, her practicality impels her to consider marriage to one of her many tenacious suitors. Woolgar provides Ethelberta with a youthful, light tone that belies her resolute nature. Woolgar expertly distinguishes the many characters with individualized vocal expression. Her pacing is relaxed, and her vivid depictions of rural and city settings add atmosphere. This novel is an easy listen and can serve as an introduction to Hardy’s works.

M.J., AudioFile

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