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Extended Audio Sample Under the Greenwood Tree Audiobook, by Thomas Hardy Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.4 out of 53.4 out of 53.4 out of 53.4 out of 53.4 out of 5 3.40 (73 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Thomas Hardy Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455175802
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One of the most popular of Hardy’s novels, this charming pastoral idyll is a lightly humorous depiction of life in an early Victorian rural community. Drawn from Hardy’s childhood memories, it represents, he said, “a true picture at first hand of the personages, ways, and customs which were common in the villages.”

The story delicately balances the concerns of the Mellstock parish choir with a romance between Dick Dewy, a member of the choir, and Fancy Day, the village schoolmistress. While the choir battles for its survival against the new vicar’s mechanical church organ, personal conflicts arise over the anachronistic customs of tradition.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa (OhThatLisa) | 2/12/2014

    " This is a surprisingly dainty Thomas Hardy novel. There are still raucous, drunken villagers and the demise of rural society is, of course, an ever-present theme, but I was struck by how flowery and feminine the entire book feels. It's a very light story with only small glimpses of the weightier subject matter that Hardy would eventually become notorious for. A pleasant read, and I admittedly loved it, but it's not his most substantive work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda Fletcher | 2/9/2014

    " Novels like Tess of the d'Urbervilles, with it's depressing and difficult plot, have always put me off Hardy. This is the only one of his works I've managed to finish, probably because it's unusually light for him. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anne Marshall | 2/7/2014

    " The movie is a lot better and much more enjoyable. His writing is very dense "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelby | 2/6/2014

    " I thought that this book was a lovely read, and really enjoyed it. Then they made it into some Masterpiece Theatre bit and it was not quite as good as the book. Oh well. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Vivienne | 2/6/2014

    " I wouldn't recommend this for anyone's first Thomas Hardy - it would probably put them off reading his other, much better works. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Adena | 2/5/2014

    " I skimmed most of this. Entertaining, but mildly boring. I hated the ending. "

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

    " Fantastic start - quintessential Hardy's Wessex. But an extremely thin plot - like watered down gruel from a Casterbridge workhouse... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dave Dunn | 2/4/2014

    " Hardy at his sunniest, which is still only partly cloudy. It's a thin volume with an even thinner plot, but Hardy is all about characterization and here we see the the young novelist beginning to create his archetypal Wessex denizens, and can find in them the kernels of those to come. Ostensibly a love story, the novel also deals, as do most of his works, with the encroachment of modern technology on the established rural order. In this case, the traditional parish choir, composed of string players and singers, is being supplanted by an organ, and the community is divided by the change. Add to this that one of the lovers in the love story is in the choir and the other is the new organist, and you could have an exploration of the ironies involved, but Hardy chooses to gloss over them. In a way, it's refreshing that he doesn't kill off his heroine, but it would have been nice to see some sort of conflict or dramatic tension. I almost think he could have done away with the romance between Dick and Fancy and concentrated on the impact of the new vicar's decision to do away with the choir, which is infinitely more interesting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David | 2/3/2014

    " This book didn't really go anywhere. It was one of Hardy's first novels and it shows. The plot was used in later novels and became much more developed than in this book. I still liked how it was written, however. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anne Marshall | 2/2/2014

    " The movie is a lot better and much more enjoyable. His writing is very dense "

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

    " I love Thomas Hardy's writing style and this book was no exception. It was delightful! Not as heavy as most of Hardy's other books which was nice and just what I was hoping for. I actually listened to this book as a LibriVox audio recording (all books in the public domain and narrated by volunteers). The narrator's voice was perfect for this book and added immensely to the experience. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bettie | 1/30/2014

    " I love Thomas Hardy and this was brilliant. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Plaits | 1/29/2014

    " The prose is full of shrewd images and clever turns of phrase, but the story and relationship the words support is shallow and unsatisfying. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elaine | 1/27/2014

    " A lighter, happier pastoral that is sweet to read. "

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

    " I thought that this book was a lovely read, and really enjoyed it. Then they made it into some Masterpiece Theatre bit and it was not quite as good as the book. Oh well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gavin | 1/23/2014

    " If Hardy seems daunting to anyone, being a little heavy at times, then this woiuld be a good novel to start with. It can best be described as Hardy light, but has many oif the elements of his darker works. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michele Vassar | 1/21/2014

    " One of Hardy's sunniest novels this is a charming tale of how Dick Drew sets out to win the love of pretty village school mistress Fancy Day. Set in the village of Mellstock (based on The parish of Stinsford where he was born) it also looks at the changing rural ways as the village choir with their fiddles are replaced by a new harmonium. A delightful read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rob Saunders | 1/19/2014

    " Had to read this as part of my A-levels, mind numbingly tedious "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Samuel | 1/16/2014

    " First of Hardy's Wessex novels...quaint pastoral tale with a relatively happy ending. Rest is all downhill from here. I particularily enjoyed a scene of rural musicians having a debate concerning which band instrument most likeably was given to man by the devil. (I agree. The clarinet is a hideous twisted piece of work...heh.) "

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

    " My first Thomas Hardy. A simple, yet enjoyable tale. The course of love has many obstacles. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marilyn | 12/28/2013

    " I've become a 19th century literature fan... love the description of village life and the depictions of the village folk. Short and sweet, this book left me wondering about the fate of the main characters. Hmmmm. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mirte | 12/28/2013

    " I saw the film and then read the book. And to be frankly honest, I enjoyed the film much more. The book's story is rather thin and did not really appeal to me. The characters remained rather flat and there was just not much progression throughout the novel. In other words, a flimsy book to read on the train, but nothing unexpected or exciting happens. Go watch the film, it is in my opinion more enjoyable than the novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Juliana Graham | 12/26/2013

    " I love Thomas Hardy and this is one of the rare works of his that is cheerful. A really good portrayal of life in an unspoilt English country village, where not much happened but the little things were very important! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin | 12/26/2013

    " I didn't think that Thomas Hardy was capable of writing a romantically optimistic novel with a happy ending!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clare Cannon | 12/25/2013

    " Hardy's style of writing is delightful, though his characters never get very close to my heart. Nor was I satisfied with the shortness of this novel, in fact, I think I almost preferred Tess' misery... at least we were able to understand her with some depth. This is supposed to be Hardy's lighter side, but the lightness wasn't very convincing, even if it wasn't exactly dark. However, for what it is, it's a beautifully written short story that helps to contextualise his other more sombre tales. It also makes vanity appear as a terribly unattractive vice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 12/23/2013

    " One of my favourite Hardy novels maybe because it is the most cheerful! You get a lovely flavour of what was like once without all the doom and gloom and angst of the major novels. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diane | 12/21/2013

    " It grew on me as I read it, and it's grown on me since I read it. I had to settle into the language style a little bit. Some of the humor is priceless. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin | 12/12/2013

    " I didn't think that Thomas Hardy was capable of writing a romantically optimistic novel with a happy ending!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa (OhThatLisa) | 12/5/2013

    " This is a surprisingly dainty Thomas Hardy novel. There are still raucous, drunken villagers and the demise of rural society is, of course, an ever-present theme, but I was struck by how flowery and feminine the entire book feels. It's a very light story with only small glimpses of the weightier subject matter that Hardy would eventually become notorious for. A pleasant read, and I admittedly loved it, but it's not his most substantive work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelby | 11/29/2013

    " I thought that this book was a lovely read, and really enjoyed it. Then they made it into some Masterpiece Theatre bit and it was not quite as good as the book. Oh well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Zan | 11/29/2013

    " A happy Hardy novel blows my mind. The characters are not nearly as rich as in his later novels (the heroine is kind of vapid), but this is a lovely little snatch of comedy and pastoral life from an author I didn't know could manage those sorts of things. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heidi | 11/26/2013

    " Satirical story surrounding a seemingly loose and doomed love and an egotistical choir in the English countryside... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marilyn | 11/26/2013

    " I've become a 19th century literature fan... love the description of village life and the depictions of the village folk. Short and sweet, this book left me wondering about the fate of the main characters. Hmmmm. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelby | 11/7/2013

    " I thought that this book was a lovely read, and really enjoyed it. Then they made it into some Masterpiece Theatre bit and it was not quite as good as the book. Oh well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vicki | 11/4/2013

    " This book was OK. You can tell that it is a really early Thomas Hardy novel because it doesn't have the polish and depth of story that his later novels have. It is, however, worthwhile to read because it is one of his only happy novels. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Belinda | 10/28/2013

    " It's a while since I read Hardy but when I did I preferred Hardy's less depressing books, which still managed to encapsulate the era through excellent descriptions of the English countryside and its working class. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda Fletcher | 10/16/2013

    " Novels like Tess of the d'Urbervilles, with it's depressing and difficult plot, have always put me off Hardy. This is the only one of his works I've managed to finish, probably because it's unusually light for him. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rosanne | 9/24/2013

    " Liked the film so much I thought I'd read it to see if the characters are fleshed out a little more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 8/30/2013

    " I loved the interview with the vicar regarding the organ, and Fancy's bee sting. Very funny, and very lite. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nabil | 6/17/2013

    " I couldn't finish the book. It was a little bit boring. "

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

    " I might just read this again some day. Great writing, decent ending, and great philosophical musings. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elisabeth | 2/6/2013

    " This is a wonderful little story that truly depicts the times of class, but without the crassness of Tess. Right now, on Netflix, it's on Watch Instantly, and boy,is that a great movie with hot men and great acting! Really nice soundtrack, too! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin | 1/7/2013

    " I didn't think that Thomas Hardy was capable of writing a romantically optimistic novel with a happy ending!! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Timothy Ferguson | 11/4/2012

    " An interesting evocation of a lost society, but the plot drags and dawdles to the point where you need to read anything else. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gwyn | 10/25/2012

    " I think that should be enough Thomas Hardy to last me for a while. It was not a great book, but I enjoyed the way he used the local dialects. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 10/11/2012

    " I never would have read this if PBS hadn't made it into a movie. The book was good but a little hard to read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristi | 10/9/2012

    " Read this one in less than a day. Enjoyable, but not that profound. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Timothy Ferguson | 9/16/2012

    " An interesting evocation of a lost society, but the plot drags and dawdles to the point where you need to read anything else. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David | 8/13/2012

    " This book didn't really go anywhere. It was one of Hardy's first novels and it shows. The plot was used in later novels and became much more developed than in this book. I still liked how it was written, however. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg | 7/15/2012

    " Hardy with a happy ending. Who knew? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathryn | 6/25/2012

    " I loved it! The courtship of Dick Dewey and Miss Fancy Day is highly entertaining. The characters were excellent and the images very striking. A short, light read for when you just need a little something enjoyable! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William Milton | 3/15/2012

    " This was slow reading for me. My interest picked up around page 75. It has lots of footnotes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 J | 10/27/2011

    " Thomas Hardy examines Progress while pretending to write a charming, pastoral love story about Dick Dewy and the irresolute Fancy Day. Very cunning, Mr Hardy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William Milton | 10/10/2011

    " This was slow reading for me. My interest picked up around page 75. It has lots of footnotes. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jude Brigley | 8/28/2011

    " I have never been fond of this book. I read it at school when thirteen and the heroine struck me as ridiculous even if her name is Fancy. It is much too merry and bright for a Thomas Hardy novel. I like Hardy when he's dark with the hand of fate hanging over him. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda Fletcher | 8/10/2011

    " Novels like Tess of the d'Urbervilles, with it's depressing and difficult plot, have always put me off Hardy. This is the only one of his works I've managed to finish, probably because it's unusually light for him. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deepti | 5/13/2011

    " This is much softer than his other more well known novels. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin | 5/10/2011

    " The only Hardy that I've ever read that wasn't even a bit depressing, but also not his best work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Moshermja | 4/8/2011

    " My first Thomas Hardy. A simple, yet enjoyable tale. The course of love has many obstacles. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jude | 1/18/2011

    " I have never been fond of this book. I read it at school when thirteen and the heroine struck me as ridiculous even if her name is Fancy. It is much too merry and bright for a Thomas Hardy novel. I like Hardy when he's dark with the hand of fate hanging over him. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Moshermja | 1/1/2011

    " My first Thomas Hardy. A simple, yet enjoyable tale. The course of love has many obstacles. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 12/25/2010

    " I never would have read this if PBS hadn't made it into a movie. The book was good but a little hard to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 12/16/2010

    " One of my favourite Hardy novels maybe because it is the most cheerful! You get a lovely flavour of what was like once without all the doom and gloom and angst of the major novels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Green leaf | 11/12/2010

    " was a good read..relationship influenced with the social class..still not broken..felt good with the good end "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elaine | 11/1/2010

    " A lighter, happier pastoral that is sweet to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 2/5/2010

    " I might just read this again some day. Great writing, decent ending, and great philosophical musings. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Vivienne | 1/25/2008

    " I wouldn't recommend this for anyone's first Thomas Hardy - it would probably put them off reading his other, much better works. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauren | 11/18/2007

    " It as easy to read, but not much to it plot-wise. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Juliana Graham | 9/28/2007

    " I love Thomas Hardy and this is one of the rare works of his that is cheerful. A really good portrayal of life in an unspoilt English country village, where not much happened but the little things were very important! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diane | 4/2/2007

    " It grew on me as I read it, and it's grown on me since I read it. I had to settle into the language style a little bit. Some of the humor is priceless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg | 3/11/2006

    " Hardy with a happy ending. Who knew? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maggie | 1/27/2005

    " thomas hardy's usual collection of country folks and the private stories of their lives. good summer read. human nature remains constant even though modern life has us living differently. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 11/8/2004

    " I loved the interview with the vicar regarding the organ, and Fancy's bee sting. Very funny, and very lite. "

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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.