(Read by Nicholas Guy Smith; Random House Audio; 12 CDs; 15 hours, 18 minutes)
Set in the beautiful agrarian (and fictional) Wessex, England, this late 19th-century drama is a rural soap opera, but one that is beautifully written by Thomas Hardy and energetically and understandingly read by Nicholas Guy Smith. At the heart of Hardy’s fourth novel is the gorgeous Bathsheba Everdene, a woman of some money and much land who is courted by three suitors. Betrayal, humiliation, death, and heartache figure into Hardy’s evocative prose before Everdene finally finds her true love. Anglophiles and lovers of classical literature will eat this up.