Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Mayor of Casterbridge (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – February 24, 1994

4.3 out of 5 stars 282 customer reviews

See all 254 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback, February 24, 1994
$3.99 $0.01

Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A novelist and a poet, Thomas Hardy is best known and loved for his evocative portraits of rural England described in his novels. The Mayor of Casterbridge is one such tale. Set in the 1840's, this powerful story of a man who cannot escape his past is now presented in a stunning dramatization, originally conceived for BBC broadcast and produced by the world's foremost creators of radio entertainment. This exclusive production immediately engages listeners from the spectacular opening scene to the breathtaking series of discoveries at its conclusion, transporting them back in time with a full-cast, authentic sound effects, and a stirring musical score.

The Mayor of Casterbridge

Drunk on rum at a country fair, Michael Henchard sells his wife and daughter to a passing sailor for five guineas. The next day, sober and overcome with guilt and remorse, he tries in vain to find them. Abandoning his search, he takes a vow of abstinence for twenty-one years and makes his way towards the town of Casterbridge.

Nineteen years later, Henchard's wife seeks him out in Casterbridge, where, as a flourishing corn trader, he has gained both wealth and the well-respected position of mayor. His family now restored to him, his happiness should be complete, but beneath the surface still smolders the same character flaws which combine with fate to bring about his degradation and ultimate ruin.

The Mayor of Casterbridge claims a unique place among Thomas Hardy's finest and most powerful novels. Rooted in an actual case of wife-selling in early nineteenth-century England, this awesome drama of guilt and revenge introduces listeners to one of the greatest tragic heroes in fiction history. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

"Cover to Cover's unabridged readings of classic novels are in a class of their own." -- Sunday Telegraph

"These Cover to Cover tapes offer up a delectable feast for fans of the spoken word. We're talking class act here-from the elegant covers to the accomplished readers." -- Deirdre Donahue, USA TODAY, December 3, 1998 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Popular Classics
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books, Limited (UK); Fourth Impression edition (February 24, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014062029X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140620290
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.6 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (282 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,828,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When one finishes "Casterbridge," one is immediately struck by its place in the development of the novel. Hardy came after Dickens and before James, and his style intrigues as you connect parts of it to the former, parts to the latter.

His plotting is sort of Dickens "lite." There are mysterious benefactors, sudden tragic deaths, reversals of fortune, paternity mysteries, ect. His prose is cleaner and easier to read than both Dickens and James; "Casterbridge" scans better than "Bleak House" or "The Wings of the Dove."

The story begins when a pastoral laborer, in a drunken rage, sells his wife and child one evening (I hate it when that happens...). When he wakes the next morning, abhorred at what he has done, he swears off liquor and decides to make something of his life. The novel truly begins eighteen years later, when his wife and daughter come back to present themselves to him. In the course of the rest of the novel, we witness the fall of the now Mayor of Casterbridge, brought about by his own character flaws and the interventions of fate.

Henchard, the main character, is a facinating combination of hot-spirited volition and turn-on-a-dime repentance. He is quick to do things which damn him but just as quick to admit his guilt. He is a wonderful character and a precursor to the later "psychological" novels of James and Forster. The satellite characters remind one of Dickens, but they are not nearly as startling and interesting, but of course, a character such as Henchard never existed in all of Dickens.

The novel proceeds to its forgone conclusion inexorably, albiet with a few melodromatic touches, yet it sustains its tone and readibility due mostly to Henchard, and the dramatic situations Hardy puts him through.

Well worth a look.
2 Comments 60 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Since I have decided to dedicate part of my time spent reading in 2003 to the classics, I started first with The Mayor of Casterbridge, not the most famous of Hardy's works but seemingly a good place to start. I will definitely read the other works by this author since I was so captivated by this book.
The novel begins with the sale of Michael Henchard's wife and child to the highest bidder at a local summer fair. Henchard is drunk and his wife, tired of his habits, decides to leave with the sailor who bids on her and her daughter. Henchard wakes up the next morning, somewhat remorseful for what he has done and vows not to drink for twenty-one years.
The very next chapter picks up the story nineteen years later, with the return of the wife and child into Henchard's life. Henchard is now quite wealthy and is such an important man in his community, he is now Mayor of Casterbridge. From here, a series of wrong decisions and misunderstandings lead to the devastating conclusion.
Hardy is well known for his tendency towards gloomy endings and this book certainly fits the mold. But he is also well known for his lyrical descriptions of the English countryside and describing a way of life which had disappeared even in his own time. There were beautiful passages about the hay carts being driven through town, loaded so high that people on the second floor of homes could reach out and touch the top of the hay. Small details abound, describing the sound of rain on trees and the smell of the local foods. But perhaps the most significant aspect of the novel for me was the feeling that Henchard had wished for everything that had happened to him, and all of his wishes came true, and thus ultimately his downfall.
Read more ›
Comment 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
The Mayor of Casterbridge is not Thomas Hardy's most famous or acclaimed novel, but in the opinion of this die-hard fan it is his best. The later Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure are generally considered his masterpieces, but while this lacks their epic grandeur and sociopolitical relevance, it is more immediately arresting, has a more conventionally interesting plot, and features one of literature's best tragic heroes. I give it the highest possible recommendation not only for fans but for anyone even remotely alive to literary greatness.

Hardy in his day was nearly unique in mixing high literary elements with what would later be called pulp factors. Hard as it is to imagine, he was like William Faulkner and Stephen King in one - a true artist with mass appeal, both critically acclaimed and bestselling. However, his early nineteenth century rural English settings, heavy dialect use, eccentric vocabulary, and other characteristics make many current readers think his books slow going. The Mayor is the obvious exception, beginning almost immediately with one of the most arresting and unforgettable scenes in all literature - nothing less than a drunken man selling his wife and child to a stranger out of anger and disgust. As often with Hardy, it is based on a real incident, but he dramatizes so vividly that we cannot help being enthralled. The drama indeed reaches such a fever pitch in these first few pages that even those normally averse to classic literature can hardly help being pulled in.

Such a beginning sets a very high standard, and it is a testament to the book's greatness that it never disappoints - and, indeed, hardly lets up.
Read more ›
2 Comments 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews