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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (11,719 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Thomas Hardy Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2010 ISBN: 9781400185078
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One of Thomas Hardy’s classic statements about modern love, courtship, and marriage, The Return of the Native is set in the pastoral village of Egdon Heath. The fiery Eustacia Vye, wishing only for passionate love, believes that her escape from Egdon lies in her marriage to Clym Yeobright, the returning “native,” home from Paris and discontented with his work there. Clym wishes to remain in Egdon, however—a desire that sets him in opposition to his wife and brings them both to despair. Surrounding them are Clym’s mother, who is strongly opposed to his marriage; Damon Wildeve, who is in love with Eustacia but married to Clym’s cousin Thomasin; and the oddly ambiguous observer Diggory Venn, whose frustrated love for Thomasin turns him into either a guardian angel or a jealous manipulator—or perhaps both.

This stew of curdled love and conflicting emotions can only boil over into tragedy, and the book’s darkly ironic ending marks it as both a classically Victorian novel and a forerunner of the modernist fiction that followed it.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Betsy | 2/20/2014

    " The first six chapters are rough, but it gets better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Em | 2/20/2014

    " I thought it would be nice to re-read all the classics I had to read for AP English, so I started with this one since I remembered liking it in high school. How different it is to read things now,alone, instead of with a whole class and with the fear of Mrs. Hazen's test coming up in my mind. I almost didn't make it through the book simply because i couldn't get through the first chapter. I didn't really care to read a whole chapter about the surrounding countryside, but once characters were introduced it was easier. I enjoyed the different characters in the book, especially Clym and how willing he was to make the best of anything. It was quite a tragic book, and since most of the ones I've been reading have been happily-ever-after type books, it was hard for me to accept the ending. The more I thought about it after, the more I enjoyed it. It was intersting to read about how different marriage and honor were back then, than now. All in all, I enjoyed it a little less than in high school, but still enjoyed it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joanie | 2/17/2014

    " I found this book disappointing. I love Hardy's down to earth style of writing, and I expected more from the book. The drama over the marriage license mistake; the awful consequence of Eustacia's failure to answer the door; the overblown concern about Clym's choice of wife: These problems all seemed tempest in a teapot to me. And without meaningful conflicts, there just wasn't enough to support the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vicki | 2/17/2014

    " This was a wonderful book. The descriptions were lyrical and breathtaking, and the characters were well-developed. Alan Rickman is a great narrator. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debbie | 2/16/2014

    " Read this is high school, and I don't really know why it didn't capture my imagination like so many other books did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sara Klinges | 2/16/2014

    " The writing is a bit much at times, but still a good story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Betsy | 2/15/2014

    " The first six chapters are rough, but it gets better. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Thelonious | 2/14/2014

    " A cliched, long-winded soap opera with predictable plot twists that never seems to end. Any possible literary merits this book might have are completely canceled out by the extent of how boring this story was. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jamie | 2/12/2014

    " Thomas Hardy has a gift for slowly moving across a panorama and weaving together a sad tale of many characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vija Williams | 2/12/2014

    " One of my favorite books of all time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lesley | 2/9/2014

    " The only Thomas Hardy book that was ever recommended to me -- although with a stern warning never to read Hardy during the winter months. The descripions of the English heath are more amazing than Bronte's in Wuthering Heights, and that's saying something. I enjoy literature that focuses so much on landscape, and this novel certainly does that. The characters are tragic and often irritating (it's Hardy, after all), so it's the details of the region and its people that stand out in the novel for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tamsyn | 2/9/2014

    " I had to read this one because it's where my mom found my name. "

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

    " Didn't *ever* feel sorry for any of these characters :-/ I don't thing we're really supposed to like them though, that's my opinion at least. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don | 2/2/2014

    " The first and still my favorite novel by Thomas Hardy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Russ | 2/2/2014

    " This novel has all the hallmarks of a classic Hardy novel: doomed love affairs, characters who make poor choices, a portentous environment. Added together, though, it falls a bit short of Hardy's best novels. I think the main problem is that all the characters are either uninteresting or ambiguous at best. Eustacia is probably the most interesting character as the love interest to the "Native" of the title, but she is still one-sided; all she wants is to get out of the heath and live a glamorous life in Paris. Of course, such aspirations are doomed from the outset in Hardy, and her dashed dream is the cornerstone that brings down all the others. Despite its weaknesses, its typical Hardian (Hardy-esque?) strengths make it a worthwhile read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grettel | 1/31/2014

    " Extraordinary. I was impressed by the modern feel of the situations and the depth to which Hardy went to portray his female characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cgrant | 1/28/2014

    " Had to read in high school and thought it would be awful-----ended up loving it and have read it more than a few times. A little too descriptive at times, but a great all-around story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jamie | 1/27/2014

    " Thomas Hardy has a gift for slowly moving across a panorama and weaving together a sad tale of many characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don | 1/25/2014

    " The first and still my favorite novel by Thomas Hardy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erica K | 1/25/2014

    " I had to read this for senior year English in high school. It actually wasn't too bad. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joel | 1/25/2014

    " One of my favorites. I had to read this for high school English class, but have read it a couple more times since. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emily | 1/23/2014

    " 19th century England. Complicated study of marriage; characters struggling for harmony among their own idealistic and physical desires, family wishes, social expectations, and unexpected events that threaten to tear it all apart. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sluggish Neko | 1/22/2014

    " The language is beautiful; the characters are vividly brought to life; and the way Hardy describes Egdon Heath is evocative. But like most Hardy books, the tale is oh so very depressing. How easily a stagnant country society can crush an unconventional woman who wants nothing more than to leave it... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stephanie | 1/20/2014

    " Eustacia Vye.....What a pain in the ass. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emily Sanders | 1/19/2014

    " This story FRUSTRATED me! The first part of the book was really hard to push through-all that talking about the heath, and blah blah blah and not moving onto a plot quickly enough. But then it did. And it drew me in. Such intrigue! But some of the characters are all so ridiculous and pathetic! Mrs. Yeobright comes to my mind as one of the most annoying characters I have ever had to deal with in a book. She was spiteful and weak and melodramatic and I'm sorry to say, I was glad for the way Hardy delt with her in the end. Eustacia Vie met a sad fate, but I suppose it was sort of fitting for such a passionate being. I don't even want to talk about Clem Yeobright or Wildeve. What an odd book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathy | 1/10/2014

    " YUCK! One of LEAST favorite high school required reads! Boring! Got the Cliff's Notes for this one! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 1/9/2014

    " I love Eustacia Vye. I can totally relate to her. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robin Lerner | 1/8/2014

    " Way to complicated of a read. Found myself looking up old English words no longer in the dictionary. It was a painful read. Had trouble remembering characters. Good luck if you choose to read this one. After reading watched a movie about it which cleared up some of my questions about the story. "

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

    " After a slow start, this book redeems itself. Great story that reminds me a bit of Madame Bovary--tragic, you see it coming, but can't turn away. This is not written like other books. Thomas Hardy was a poet who wrote novels--like Michelangelo was a sculptor who painted. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tonya | 1/4/2014

    " I wrote my AP literature paper on this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cathleen | 1/2/2014

    " audiobook note: Divine narration by Alan Rickman. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Genevieve | 12/25/2013

    " Not as good as Jude the Obscure, which I think is Hardy's masterpiece, but still an excellent read. The characterization of Egdon Heath is haunting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lobstergirl | 12/25/2013

    " If you stripped out the characters, the plot, and the dialogue, leaving only the descriptions of Egdon Heath, this would still be worth reading. Hardy is a master of physical scene-setting and the heath is alive and pulsating. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeffrey | 12/21/2013

    " I am not sure if I actually finished this book...it was a requirement for a class, but I think I ended up renting the movie. I know I read at least half of it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 12/15/2013

    " My students might not have been thrilled by the lengthy descriptive passages, but Hardy is still one of my favorite authors. ;) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauretta | 12/12/2013

    " I adore Hardy - any Hardy "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave | 12/10/2013

    " A classic. I don't remember much about it except it was a tender love story with good situation development. Mom read it too, I believe, and enjoyed it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 wally | 12/10/2013

    " don't believe this was the edition i read, but i enjoyed the story. might have been in this story from hardy, character is asked his name. he says what it is, blushing at the sound of his name...this one? it was hardy. a good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Holdenn | 12/4/2013

    " Old Eustacia Vye. She wasn't too sexy or anything, but even so you can't help wondering what a nun maybe thinks about when she reads old Eustacia. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellen | 11/26/2013

    " my first hardy. the coincidences (fateful events?) can be overwhelming at times, but i'm a sucker for the passion and lush landscapes that hardy doles out in spades. plus, i now (still) want to visit a heath... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mlg | 11/23/2013

    " One of Hardy's very best. Great main character and lots of plot twists "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott Ford | 11/20/2013

    " This is a great companion piece to Tess of D'Urbevilles. Tess is the rural, country girl out-of-place in an increasingly modern world. Eustacia Vye is a modern young woman lost in the rural landscape. Both end in tragedy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark W. Cole | 11/13/2013

    " I learned what a reddleman was! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angie | 11/6/2013

    " Liked this one as well. Oh the follies of men. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leslie | 11/3/2013

    " This book is one I like well enough to re-read every few years. I think it's the best of Hardy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Janice | 10/17/2013

    " It would be more accurate to give the first 200 pages of this book 1/5, the next 200 4/5 and the ending 2/5. Not the best Thomas Hardy book I've ever read but it had some enjoyable moments. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Liana | 10/6/2013

    " My guilty literary pleasures include reading authors like Thomas Hardy. I often am inspired to adapt some of his short stories (and this novel) into a screenplay. Someday. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rourke Stacy | 10/5/2013

    " I have read this book numerous times and with each re-read have a growing respect for Thomas Hardy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kerry | 10/2/2013

    " I read this in high school. Maybe I would like it more if I read it now. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kerry | 9/16/2013

    " I read this in high school. Maybe I would like it more if I read it now. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judy | 9/7/2013

    " I've read this many times before, but still notice new things about it each time. One of Hardy's greatest novels. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharis | 8/28/2013

    " Read this in highschool and loved it. Love the name Eustacia. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Kemp | 7/23/2013

    " Excellent novel from this genre. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim Cassa | 6/16/2013

    " I like his style of writing. some might say a bit out dated, but I like it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wil | 5/28/2013

    " I liked it about as well as I did 35 years ago...Hardy is conflicted and has real trouble being optimistic, but he tries, and he does write well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anita Young | 5/17/2013

    " I listed to the audiobook read by Alan Rickman. I had never read Hardy before, and the combination of his lovely prose and Rickman's voice made listening to Return of the Native a marvelous experience. I'll be reading more by Hardy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathy | 5/15/2013

    " YUCK! One of LEAST favorite high school required reads! Boring! Got the Cliff's Notes for this one! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gary Christensen | 4/25/2013

    " I think this was my first "bog book". More followed. Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, The Secret Garden, etc. I love this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott Ford | 4/19/2013

    " This is a great companion piece to Tess of D'Urbevilles. Tess is the rural, country girl out-of-place in an increasingly modern world. Eustacia Vye is a modern young woman lost in the rural landscape. Both end in tragedy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 wally | 3/9/2013

    " don't believe this was the edition i read, but i enjoyed the story. might have been in this story from hardy, character is asked his name. he says what it is, blushing at the sound of his name...this one? it was hardy. a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Martina | 3/5/2013

    " I love it so far! Hardy really grows on me, he's like a darker and earthier DH Lawrence... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Malex10000 | 2/9/2013

    " Anything by Thomas Hardy is awesome! You have to like classics and description though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Martha Johnson | 2/3/2013

    " As I plowed through all of Hardy, this one didn't stick. It was a chore. Hardy was already dark and engulfing but I didn't hold to the plot and characters of this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joanna | 1/23/2013

    " One of my all time favorites since developing an interest in Thomas Hardy novels back in High School. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jo Cosby | 12/21/2012

    " This book is a little hard to get started, but once you get passed all the character introductions it gets really juicy! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom Nevins | 12/20/2012

    " Thomas Hardy's look at life on the British heath is full of decisions and the ramifications and while written about the 19th century could be any hood today. Great book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wil | 11/22/2012

    " I liked it about as well as I did 35 years ago...Hardy is conflicted and has real trouble being optimistic, but he tries, and he does write well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lia | 10/4/2012

    " Tragic, very Hardy. No one really wins. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandra | 9/20/2012

    " Well-written, as always. Tragically beautiful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jerome | 8/20/2012

    " Interesting story, but I found it hard to read because of the strange words and phrases. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 James | 7/16/2012

    " I only read the beginning of this book. I was supposed to read it for school, but I found the narrative style extremely dry and longwinded. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stephanie | 7/4/2012

    " Eustacia Vye.....What a pain in the ass. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 6/2/2012

    " This was a great classic, I really enjoyed the characters and the role each played in the story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hayley | 6/1/2012

    " I am Eustacia Vye. Well, without the flowing black locks and devastating beauty, obviously. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robert Maier | 4/8/2012

    " Published in 1895, I'm reading the populist Modern Library version c. 1950, picked up by my son Phil at a used bookshop for my birthday, because he knew Hardy is one of my favorites. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anita Young | 12/26/2011

    " I listed to the audiobook read by Alan Rickman. I had never read Hardy before, and the combination of his lovely prose and Rickman's voice made listening to Return of the Native a marvelous experience. I'll be reading more by Hardy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katelyn | 10/24/2011

    " I hated this book when I read it in high school. A decade later- I really enjoyed it and found it quite beautiful in places. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don | 10/14/2011

    " The first and still my favorite novel by Thomas Hardy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristin | 10/3/2011

    " I don't remember a lot of this book, so it only gets an OK. I remember Eustacia Vye being a rather mean person and the fact that Holden Caulfield liked her in the Catcher in the Rye. That's all I have to say. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Theresa Johnson | 9/10/2011

    " I love Thomas Hardy, for the most part, but this was a hard read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mike | 8/28/2011

    " I would give this a lower rating if there was one. Do people really like this drivel? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 ماهر Battuti | 8/12/2011

    " The book we studied of Hardy. A novel of great depth in characterization and plot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dennis W. Maloney | 7/25/2011

    " Great depictions of the bucolic life of Hardy's fictional county in England. Hardy is a master story-teller of the self's perseverance and the confluence of external forces that would have otherwise. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 7/10/2011

    " This book is wonderfully melodramatic, filled with agonizingly potent dramatic irony. It's typical Thomas Hardy--and I loved it. Beautifully dark, with quite a satisfying climax. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ibanca | 7/9/2011

    " This was pretty darn intriguing. The characters were unbelievably real! Eustacia has to be one of my favorite characters of all time. The story was beautiful, a beautiful tragedy. Truly a classic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jim | 7/4/2011

    " The tragic complications of the interrelations and passions brought out the nuances of character of all the people in the novel.

    I felt the book had an unsatisfactory ending, and was not moved by Yeobright's closing "sermon" "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bthomas | 6/29/2011

    " A very good read. Not as strong as Jude the Obscure. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leslie | 6/7/2011

    " This book is one I like well enough to re-read every few years. I think it's the best of Hardy. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Christine | 5/23/2011

    " My opinion of this book might be a case of bad timing. I may try it again sometime. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 5/12/2011

    " Read in prep school and all I remember is Clym Yeobright and Eustacia Vye and a
    pretty depressing tale. Tough to rate of course unless I read it again. Date read is a guess. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melanie | 4/27/2011

    " I loved it, as I love most classics. Similar to most classic British novels, this book has a somewhat slow start. It does, however, redeem itself in later chapters. It was a spectacular read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ange | 4/23/2011

    " Takes a long while to get into the story. I didn't care for the people in the story. Nor did I like the story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 4/8/2011

    " Listened on audio in the car. Tough to get started with the long description of the heath. Almost gave up. Love the language of the day. So formal. Turned out to be a good love story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fawn | 3/16/2011

    " My favourite Thomas Hardy book ever! Highly recommended! Thomas Hardy is my favourite author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lcooney | 2/15/2011

    " Inspired a lifelong commitment to reading for pleasure. "

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About the Author
Author Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), English poet, dramatist, and novelist, was born on the Egdon Heath in Dorset. He studied in Dorchester and apprenticed to an architect before leaving for London, where he began to write. Unable to find a public for his poetry, which idealized the rural life, he turned to the novel and met with success as well as controversy. The strong public reaction against some of his darker themes turned him back to writing verse. Today several of his novels are considered masterpieces of tragedy.

About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.