I might have liked this book. There's honestly no way to tell for sure, since my first encounter has been thoroughly overwhelmed by the audiobook's drI might have liked this book. There's honestly no way to tell for sure, since my first encounter has been thoroughly overwhelmed by the audiobook's dreadful narration. Frederick Davidson (aka, David Case) reads his way through every bit of narrative with an inflectionless sing-song that lands on important words in a whisper as often as it lands on irrelevant ones with emphatic volume. He sobs his way through tearful dialogue instead of reading it with pathos; changes his rough-voiced characters to simpering whiners whenever they're having an emotional moment; and imbues every female character with the least attractive vocal qualities of their sex---limpid die-away airs or hard-voiced whorish manipulation, with no in between.
While there might have been something redeemable in these characters if I'd read their story, myself, I've been left with the indelible impression that, no, in fact, these characters are nothing more than mincing ninnies or greedy narcissists or self-deluding fools. And that while, yes, their story is framed by the devouring juggernaut of the English educational system and marriage laws, they would've determinedly ruined their lives even in the absence of these things.
My philosophy teacher in college told me I desperately needed to read this book, that if I did, I would see a British author's compassionate treatment of his characters (in contrast, according to her, to Jane Austen's contempt for them). But I didn't see Hardy's compassion for these people---and I've read Tolstoy, so I know what the compassionate expression of very flawed people looks like. What I saw, what I read, was a determined lambasting of a social system via sad, pathetic people who probably couldn't have made a go of life even under the best of circumstances. Hardy made it difficult for me to even care about these people, let alone have compassion for their circumstances.
I might laugh at Austen's characters, but she means me to. I don't think Hardy wants me laughing, let alone sneering, at his...but that's what I fought not to do through the entire book.
Poor Jude. Poor Sue. What unfortunate wretches you are....more
I have a feeling that Caddie Woodlawn is actually a much better book than its audiobook narrator would have me believe, but after reading the Little HI have a feeling that Caddie Woodlawn is actually a much better book than its audiobook narrator would have me believe, but after reading the Little House series, I think I still would've found this novel a bit of a letdown. From what I've seen, people seem to identify with (and love) one or the other, and I appear to be more of a Laura Ingalls Wilder person than a Carol Ryrie Brink one.
Caddie is certainly an engaging scamp and she has plenty of adventures, but most of those adventures read, to me, more like predictable sitcom hijinks than genuine happenings: at times, I could almost hear a studio audience laughing or awwwing in the background. It's possible I would've enjoyed the story more if I'd read it as a child, but to be honest, even as a kid, I had a pretty low tolerance for vicarious embarrassment...and there's plenty of that in Caddie Woodlawn.
I definitely understand why others might enjoy Caddie's story, but for me, I'll stick to the dangers and triumphs of pioneer life with the Ingalls family....more
I think I would've enjoyed this much more if I hadn't so much as skimmed the preface or afterword. Normally, I prefer to read a book and form my own oI think I would've enjoyed this much more if I hadn't so much as skimmed the preface or afterword. Normally, I prefer to read a book and form my own opinion before admitting any other perspectives that might warp or shift the way I look at it. This time, I was a bit carried away at the prospect of reading an adult novel by an author whose books I loved so much as a child, and though I resisted temptation so far as to only skim the preface and afterword, that was more than enough to dampen my reading experience. Still, I did enjoy the story and Emily's character, and someday, perhaps when the critical commentary has faded sufficiently, I'd like to try discovering The Making of a Marchioness anew. ...more