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Extended Audio Sample The Blithedale Romance, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,372 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne Narrator: Jonathan Fried Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2015 ISBN: 9781490683829
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Miles Coverdale embarks on a quest for the betterment of the world through the agrarian lifestyle and community of the Blithedale farm. The story begins with a conversation between Coverdale and Old Moodie, a character who reappears throughout the story. The legend of the mysterious Veiled Lady is introduced; she is a popular clairvoyant who disappears unannounced from the social scene. Coverdale then makes the voyage to Blithedale, where he is introduced to such characters as Zenobia and Mr. and Mrs. Silas Foster.

At their first community dinner, they are interrupted by the arrival of Hollingsworth, a previous acquaintance of Coverdale’s, who is carrying a frail, pale girl. Though Hollingsworth believes the girl (whose age is never clarified) is an expected guest, none of the Blithedale citizens recognize her. She immediately develops a strong attachment to Zenobia and reveals her name to be Priscilla. Soon after, Coverdale becomes severely ill and is bedridden. During his sickness, he believes he is on the brink of death and develops a closeness with Hollingsworth due to their anxiety-ridden situation and discussion of worldly ideals. Hollingsworth and Zenobia take care of him, and he returns to health shortly.

As he recovers and spring comes, the residents of the community begin to work the land successfully and prove to their neighbors the plausibility of their cause. Priscilla starts to open up, and relationships between the other characters develop as well. Tension in the friendship between Coverdale and Hollingsworth intensifies as their philosophical disagreements continue. Meanwhile, Zenobia and Hollingsworth become close, and rumor flies they might build a house together.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 2/19/2014

    " This book started out with so much promise, it makes me sad that it ended up falling so short of the mark. It began with some surprisingly modern themes, but did very little to make good use of them. The whole story is told first-person by a very unlikable and unreliable narrator, an elitist young man who thinks of himself as being very clever (although he loses every intellectual debate he opens his mouth in) and heroic (although he becomes very ill almost immediately and is constantly plagued by bouts of jealousy and self-pity). Of course, Hawthorne wrote him in such an unflattering light intentionally, but I still prefer my main characters to be a bit more dynamic. The story itself begins like an intellectual exercise, morphs into a mystery of sorts, and then ends like a bad soap opera. Oh, and the story relies heavily on coincidence to move itself forward because of the narrator's disinclination to do anything proactive. This being Hawthorne, there are some beautifully written passages to be found here, but definitely don't go into this expecting the same degree of genius as The Scarlet Letter. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mia | 2/17/2014

    " The character Zenobia really helped me grasp how deeply intellectual women suffered in the 19th century, being creatures that were constantly judged and shot down for reacting against their oppression. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patrick | 2/5/2014

    " An interesting take on the emotional inner-workings of the Brook Farm project, as well as the expectations of women in society at that time period- even after they had willingly removed themselves from that society. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sara | 1/29/2014

    " This remains one of the finest examples of literature, not just of the 19th century but of all time. Actually, I don't know if that's true, but I do know that I researched Brook Farm like crazy after reading this book, and I had an unbridled enthusiasm for months to come about communes, and starting one. One day, I proclaimed to anyone who would listen, I would make that dream of a utopian intellectual society REAL, dammit! Then I realized I knew nothing about farming, and I really liked Dunkin Donuts, and yeah, that was that. Oh, but you should definitely read this book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charles Stephen | 1/13/2014

    " Read this years ago (in college). In this reading I was mainly interested in his characterization of Zenobia. Other books I had read posited that Zenobia was based on Margaret Fuller. My impression was that Elizabeth Peabody, eldest sister of Sophia, whom Hawthorne actually married, was actually a stronger candidate. Hawthorne has great facility with language, but his romances are always short on plot devices to spice up his terrific prose. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauren | 1/13/2014

    " This is such a curious book. It's based in part on Hawthorne's experience at Brook Farm, a communal farm in West Roxbury. But it is also a typical Hawthornian exploration of relationships, secrecies, broken trusts, with a dollop of Romance and Intrigue and, my favorite, Mesmerism. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vildan Arıcan | 1/12/2014

    " hmmm love that guy, such creativeness despite his recluse character...that sounds more novel then Seven gables...one step to call it modern:))) ready to fell in love with any women who are beautiful...:)))) pity on Hawthorne...his shyness... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Krista | 1/5/2014

    " trippy. good read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachel Near | 12/21/2013

    " Life in a Utopian farm community. Count me out. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Deviny | 10/31/2013

    " i'm not really sure what i learned from this... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chrystal | 10/28/2013

    " Hawthorne created an interesting setting...I read this in college. I remember it moving very slowly, but liking the idea of their society and the time and place of this novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristin | 8/22/2013

    " If you enjoy trancendentalism then you will like Hawthornes spin....I wasnt so much a fan of the story but I love Hawthornes style and technique! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Terry | 1/2/2013

    " For many years, Hawthorne was my favorite author. It's because of Dr. Tom Maik's lit class in college and this novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Celia | 7/12/2012

    " Of all of Nathaniel's novels, liked this one the least. But it is somewhat witty. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 4/21/2011

    " My favorite Hawthorne "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nate | 3/21/2011

    " Enjoyed this more than I expected. A departure for Hawthorne but nevertheless a very good book. Not aiming as high as his earlier books, but more fully realized. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kiki Leyba | 4/28/2010

    " I kept thinking about David Coverdale(Whitesnake) and Tawny Kittane. Oh grad school. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lynette Erskine | 2/16/2010

    " This book was poetic and prettily worded, but it was so boring!! I generally love Hawthorne, but I had a hard time getting through this work and didn't like it when it was over. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dana | 1/5/2009

    " American Romance (in the traditional sense of the romance) -not my fave, but maybe I missed something. "

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