Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Audiobooks—fiction - MEG NOLA

Thomas Hardy, Naxos Au­dio­books, $59.98 (10.75 hours), 978-1-78198-030-9 Hardy’s mirth, pa­tri­o­tism, and melo­drama are es­pe­cially en­joy­able in spo­ken form.

Ac­tor Ni­cholas Rowe en­gag­ingly nar­rates Naxos’ au­dio­book The Trum­pet Ma­jor, an unabridged ver­sion of the Thomas Hardy novel cen­tered on two broth­ers, the woman they love, and the dreaded in­va­sion of Eng­land by Napoleon’s armies.

First pub­lished in 1880, The Trum­pet Ma­jor is set dur­ing the Napoleonic Wars of the early nine­teenth cen­tury. Anne Gar­land and her mother, Martha, live in the quiet English town of Over­combe. Anne is a win­some and prin­ci­pled young woman, while wid­owed Martha con­tem­plates re­mar­riage to the lo­cal miller. Miller Love­day’s sons are mil­i­tary men: Bob en­listed in the Navy and John in the cavalry as the ti­tled Trum­pet Ma­jor. John is more se­ri­ous in na­ture, while Bob is charm­ing and im­pul­sive. Both are in love with Anne, and she in her own way loves each back.

Hardy nov­els are of­ten known for their de­tail and grad­ual pac­ing, and for their use of re­gional lan­guage. His longer di­a­logue pas­sages can be a chal­lenge to mud­dle through as text, but as part of an au­dio­book, th­ese same pages are a de­light. In par­tic­u­lar, Rowe takes the char­ac­ter of miserly old squire Benjy Der­ri­man and gives him a di­men­sion of ad­dled yet poignant hu­mor. And while there are a wide range of other per­son­al­i­ties in The Trum­pet Ma­jor—in­clud­ing a cameo by King Ge­orge III—ROWE keeps all dis­tinct while main­tain­ing the ever-shift­ing love tri­an­gle be­tween John, Bob, and Anne.

As a ro­mance, the slow twists and turns of The Trum­pet Ma­jor in­trigue, ex­as­per­ate, and come to a bit­ter­sweet end. As a his­tor­i­cally mil­i­tary tale, the novel cap­tures Eng­land’s in­tense fear of Napoleon, the “Cor­si­can ogre,” while also spot­light­ing the power and pageantry of the Bri­tish royal forces. The Trum­pet Ma­jor com­bines quirky mo­ments and ges­tures with mirth, pa­tri­o­tism, and melo­drama, and is es­pe­cially en­joy­able in this spo­ken form.

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