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Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far from the Madding Crowd (edition 1874)

by Thomas Hardy

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7,072113509 (3.96)461
Thomas Hardy makes his characters work for their rewards, as is apparent from my reading of his books. Far from the Madding Crowd is no exception.

In Far from the Madding Crowd, we meet Gabriel Oak, a successful farmer, a knowledgeable shepherd, and an unrequited lover of his next door neighbor. Tragedy strikes his herd, and he finds himself destitute, until he gains employment under the owner of some large farm with sheep. This owner, turns out, is the woman he once loved.

In this state, he watches the farmer next door and a handsome soldier vie for her attention, and nothing really goes well for anybody. Typical Hardy. In the end, some people get what they wanted, but perhaps not what they still want.

While Hardy’s writing can, at times, be dismally depressing, his characters seem real, and there’s plenty of humor in the stories to give them an overall bittersweet flavor to a discerning reader. For that reason, as well as for the fact that his writing can stand the test of time, and be completely readable nowadays as it probably was when it was originally written, I recommend this to readers of classic literature, as well as fine literature.

While it has no sparkly vampires, no wizarding teens, and no extraterrestrial visitors, it has real, honest people, and that gets the job done. ( )
  aethercowboy | Jun 8, 2012 |
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A sampling of Wuthering Heights meets Charles Dickens. What happens when three men fall "in love" with the same woman, on a grey English countryside? Well, you won't guess the path to the outcome. As a side note, I think Margaret Mitchell must have read Hardy. I kept having this dejavu feeling while hearing Bathsheba speak and I finally realized that she reminded me a bit of Scarlett, at least at first. ( )
1 vote sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
I enjoyed this more than I expected to - I've never read any Hardy before and so expected it to be a tougher read one way or another. It has lovely description of countryside and farming, and vivid characters. The pace is pretty leisurely at the start but picks up as the book goes on and gets pretty frantic towards the end. Bathsheba is an interesting character, particularly for the time she was written, she's very independent and forceful at the start and I found her forthright conversations with Gabriel far more entertaining than the various drunken peasant banter which I guess is meant to be humorous but didn't really hit the mark for me! Will definitely read more Hardy sometime soon. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Apr 8, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this! It was much lighter than "Tess" -- at least for me! And even had some bits of humor in it, which surprised & pleased me :) ( )
  TerriS | Jan 17, 2016 |
Far from the Madding Crowd tells the story of Gabriel Oak, a shepherd, and the young woman he admires, Bathsheba Everdene. While at the beginning of the novel Oak is fairly prosperous and Bathsheba forced to live with her aunt, Oak soon finds himself reduced in status and ends up working for Bathsheba who has inherited her uncle's farm in Weatherby. He still carries a torch for her but recognizes she's far above him and uninterested. They become friends and, meanwhile, another farmer, Boldwood, falls deeply in love with Bathsheba. As she's contemplating her answer to his proposal, she encounters a dashing soldier, Sergeant Troy, who she's immediately attracted to. Troy has previously been involved with one of Bathsheba's maids who fled the town but only Boldwood and Oak know this.

I read the first half of the book fairly slowly and really only became interested about halfway through. A combination of unexpected character developments pushed me onto the end. One of the interesting things about the book is the perspective changes many times. While the story focuses on Bathsheba we spend less time in her head than those of her suitors. I think it was a choice made to soften the character. Especially for the time, she would have been seen as headstrong and haughty in many of the scenes but through the lens of someone that cares about her the harshness is softened.

Gabriel Oak is an excellent character. He's extremely loyal and his pride and stubborn streak match Bathsheba's. His quiet devotion to her throughout the novel, alongside all the wonderful descriptions, is probably why I enjoyed this book as much as I did. I didn't love the story, mainly due to so much repetition, but there's so much to take from the story, I can see why this remains a classic after all these years. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
Hardy really had me wondering what Bathsheba possessed in charisma and charm that 3 guys get entangled with her and ask her to love them immediately.
Troy getting tangled up with her dress made me put that chapter on the say what kind of thicket to be walking in the dark. Who falls in love for creepies? Not only pulling him off her dress, Then creepy Boldwood has gone so far as go shopping for her or was that’s his mother’s stuff.

The new movie softens his sword play from Hardy's symbolism.
How does Bathsheba end up with Oak’s dog?

The village has a real honkytonk characters.
  obeehave | Jan 4, 2016 |
The Moral of the Story: If you marry a jerk, make sure he cant swim ( )
1 vote fueledbycoffee | Dec 26, 2015 |
"The heart wants what the heart wants"

No, that is not from this book. I just thought it would have been a good tagline for the 2015 movie adaptation of this classic (they went with "Based on the classic love story by Thomas Hardy" instead).

"Serve you right you silly cow"

That is also not from the book, but it's a sentence that popped into my mind while reading some later parts of the book.

"Fuck off Boldwood!"

Still not from the book but I wish it was.

"It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs."

Now that is from the book, which is brimming with quotable lines. Not being a woman I don't know how true it is but I find this one very interesting. Thomas Hardy was not a woman either (unlike [a:George Eliot|173|George Eliot|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1396882294p2/173.jpg]) but I am sure he had much better insight than I do.
(For some clarification of this quote please refer to the comments section after the review).

This is the latest of my ongoing project to "read" classic books in audiobook format. I find that printed books require more patience and commitment.

Far from the Madding Crowd is basically the story of Bathsheba Everdene and how her three suitors affect her life. This is my second Thomas Hardy book, [b:Jude the Obscure|50798|Jude the Obscure|Thomas Hardy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389403264s/50798.jpg|41342119] was the first, I found [b:Jude the Obscure|50798|Jude the Obscure|Thomas Hardy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389403264s/50798.jpg|41342119] very depressing though quite a gripping read. I am glad to report this book is somewhat more upbeat, somewhat being the operative word. What a gloom merchant Hardy seems to be, was he a buzz killer at parties? I can not fault his talent as a writer though, his prose is consistently beautiful and elegant, his characters are well developed and vivid. His plot twists and turns are often unpredictable.

Looking at the protagonist Bathsheba Everdene, considering her wit and intelligence how she ends up choosing to marry the worst of the three suitors is hard to imagine. Obviously in the context of the book she is dazzled by Troy's oily charms, but I find it a little out of character and feel like she chooses him to drive the plot forward. If she had chosen the best man out of the three we would have ended up with a short story of nonevent.

Of the other two, that Boldwood seems to have a very appropriate name. His "wood" makes him bold (sorry). His bullying Bathsheba into submission is hard to take, apparently he his a man driven by passion (or his little fireman). Gabriel Oak is the perfect gentleman throughout, I am not surprised Bathsheba does not choose him to begin with, he seems like a safe and dull choice.

If the overall plot of the book seems like a soap opera I may have misrepresented it, There is a lot of psychological insight here about human nature and how we often make the wrong choices based on superficiality. As mentioned earlier this novel is not as grim as [b:Jude the Obscure|50798|Jude the Obscure|Thomas Hardy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389403264s/50798.jpg|41342119], the first half of the book is in generally good spirit, the story becomes very dark towards the end of the book but ended on a moderately cheerful note. I find the ending a little predictable but very satisfying, I imagine most reader would want the book to end just like this and perhaps Hardy did not want to alienate hips readers too much and indulge in a gloomy ending as seems to be his wont.

An enjoyable book to read when you are in the mood for a classic or some pastoral mayhem.

I have not read Hardy's [b:Tess of the d'Urbervilles|32261|Tess of the D'Urbervilles|Thomas Hardy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358921541s/32261.jpg|3331021] yet but it sounds really depressing. Can't wait!

EDIT: I have read Tess of the d'Urbervilles since writing this review in April 2013. It is indeed marvelously depressing, here's my mind bogglingly dull review. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
A lovely rural tale where Gabriel Oak and the countryside compete for centre stage.
Read June 2004 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 30, 2015 |
If I had known I'd enjoy this novel so much, I'd have read it sooner! It's a wonderful story of life in agricultural England, seemingly untouched by the Industrial Revolution. Bathsheba is young, alone, and very confident of her abilities. When she inherits her uncle's farm, her social position abruptly changes for the better. Over the next few months, three different men, each with unique combinations of virtues, enter into her life. Despite her earlier convictions to make it on her own, she chooses one to marry, with consequences for her little community.
Hardy has developed a set of characters that, while maybe not entirely believable, are attractive and interesting. The novel moves right along, never bogging down. His descriptions of the farming community are charming and invite the reader into a world that was fast disappearing. His reflections on the social mores and their influence on people's choices are fun to read as well as thought-provoking. ( )
  TerriBooks | Nov 7, 2015 |
A story of independent Bathsheba and the three very different men who loved her set in Thomas Hardy's Wessex. Tragic and passionate. ( )
1 vote trile1000 | Oct 23, 2015 |
Bathsheba Everdene is beautiful and willful and when she inherits her uncle's farm in Westbury she makes the controversial decision to run it herself without the aid of a bailiff. In the midst of her independence, however, Bathsheba finds herself the object of desire of three very different men. As Bathsheba contemplates the concept of marriage, the power of her attractions will alter the lives of each of the men as well as her own, in ways no one could predict.

I enjoyed the majority of this classic novel with its largely quiet and pastoral feel and it's sudden dramatic turn in the latter half of the book. The language is beautiful and each of the characters are drawn wonderfully and distinctly. My only gripe is a relic of the period in which the novel was written, as Hardy frequently includes sentences about the common weakness of women in general that left me rolling my eyes. I found it particularly irritating as the main character of his novel is such a strong and independent woman. That being said, it was a solid read that I don't regret. ( )
  MickyFine | Oct 19, 2015 |
My classic read for the summer, begun in early June and finally finished here at the end of August. My thoughts? A yes. A strong yes, really. A compelling heroine. A strong hero. Lots of difficulties. And a trip through nineteenth century rural England. What more could you want? ( )
  debnance | Sep 27, 2015 |
This is the second Hardy novel I have read and is very much like the first, Tess of D'Urbervilles. This novel tells the story of Bathsheba Everdeen and her trials and tribulations trying to live her life as a headstrong and ambitious woman in a Victorian man's world. However, unlike Tess of D'Urbervilles, this book has a few smiles and a positive ending. This book has little action, but is mostly about relationships. ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Sep 19, 2015 |
This book has it all. Wonderful language - so many new words to savour, short chapters that kept the plot moving and a satisfying ending. ( )
  HelenBaker | Sep 15, 2015 |
I have no idea why this book did not impress me quite as much as Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" or "Mayor of Casterbridge". After all, all the elements of a solid drama were there: a vulnerability of a beautiful woman precariously balanced against her stoicism, the unrequited love, sudden passion sprung as a result of a silly whim, tragic denouement for some and happy ending for others, intriguing insights into the human nature by the author...

Bathsheba Everdeen and Gabriel Oak are the two co-protagonists, while Boldwood and Troy seem to be secondary characters that, to me, appear on the scene only to offset Bathsheba's weaknesses. Though Bathsheba is at the center of it all and, for a woman of that era, is certainly a redoubtable personality, Gabriel Oak seems to be the most positive and appealing character out of the four. Hardy dwells on the village life of the area, going into detailed description of nature and the colorful local characters - whose life, though "far from the madding crowd", gets suddenly disrupted by the unpredictable and volatile events. And yet, somehow, for me, neither the plot nor the deliverance of the narrative were at the level of Hardy's two aforementioned novels. ( )
1 vote Clara53 | Sep 4, 2015 |
‘Its very title – a quotation from Gray’s “Elegy written in a Country Churchyard” – is an ironic literary joke. Gray idealises the “noiseless” and “sequestered” calm of country life, where “sober wishes never learned to stray”; Hardy disrupts the idyll, and not just by introducing the sound and fury of an extreme plot into the pastoral world. Like Braddon and Collins, he was out to subvert his readers’ complacency’ (Lucasta Miller)

Bathsheba Everdene is the heroine and heart of this story but - as it often happens with Jane Austen’s Emma - not a character easy to love. She's flawed and vain, prone to make the wrong decisions and mar her life. She is a complicated young woman, almost paradoxical: she provokes and confuses the reader as she does her suitors. She is inconstant, unsure, impulsive, inconsiderate and, in my opinion, not very smart and very, very lucky. She’s lucky in her misfortunes, I mean, since, in the end, she chooses safely and ends up safe. Fate is good to Bathsheba, so much more than to Tess, for instance. It is clear she has not my sympathy, isn't it? Moreover, for me it’s difficult to recognize in her the feminist icon many have in all these years. I can’t hate her though and she is extremely well-written. (go on reading at http://flyhigh-by-learnonline.blogspot.it/2015/08/how-romantic-is-far-from-maddi...)
  learnonline | Aug 28, 2015 |
Tadhg Hynes did a good job narrating this Victorian classic, especially with the voices of the farm workers & villagers. I was a bit put off in the beginning but was glad that I persevered; I think the difficulty was with Hardy's writing rather than the narration. ( )
  leslie.98 | Aug 24, 2015 |
I am downgrading my previous rating which had been based on an extremely hazy recollection of this book from high school. This early Hardy novel remains one of my favorites of his books but rereading this reminded me why I never loved Hardy the way I do Dickens, Trollope and Thackeray. His writing style, his word choices in particular, is not really what I like and I find too many passages to be either a struggle or a bore.

The plot and the characters, on the other hand, I think are excellent. I suspect that is why he shone in my memory -- these were the things I remembered. I guess that this is also why his books make good film adaptations. While it is true that no adaptation can convey all the nuances that the book contains, it is a pretty good way to experience the plot without the writing. ( )
  leslie.98 | Aug 24, 2015 |
Always trying to catch up on those books being sourced for movies/TV (there are dozens on that list right now... that I WANT to read. sigh.)

Such a contrast to Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Wouldn't Tess wish she were Bathsheba Everdene? Other than some undisclosed things that happened before the book started, it seems as though Bath has had a pretty easy life compared to the misery that Tess suffers at every turn. Having three guys vying for your attention doesn't seem like such a bad problem compared to Tess. And other than that, some corn possibly getting ruined from the rain. And sheep drama. I can appreciate Hardy's layered prose in this one, but I think I'm on Tess's team. Bathsheba is a great heroine but which of three suitors she ends up with isn't the best premise for a book that suits me. It's sad to lose the Bathsheba in the first few pages, seeing her improperly for the time she was in, lean back on her horse to avoid low branches (let alone not riding side saddle.) This Bathsheba turns into a suitor juggler and then wishes for the time when she didn't have to deal with all of it. I think reading about Bathsheba's backstory would have helped relate to her. Maybe I would have liked this one better if I read it before meeting Tess. You can't beat Thomas Hardy when it comes to great pastoral prose though. ( )
1 vote booklove2 | Aug 12, 2015 |
I loved this book and am amazed that I hadn't read it before now. It is charming, delightful and poignant all at the same time!
Gabriel loves Bathsheba, pure and simple and when she turns him down he accepts it, but carries on looking out for her.
She doesn't know what she wants and gets herself into a right pickle by doing the wrong thing, but Gabriel is there! She nearly loses all but Gabriel is there.
Things take a dreadful turn and I won't give away any more of the story! Except to say it is well worth the read, even trying to understand the local dialect of the characters. ( )
  Glorybe1 | Jul 26, 2015 |
A surprisingly modern tale. ( )
  laverack | Jul 25, 2015 |
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
1874 Wessex
I had seen this movie in the late 60's with my grandparents. Had no idea what it was about but it's a classic. I also ordered the paperback a few months ago and haven't gtten to it. But now I have it on audio so I hope I enjoy it.
Quite a different type of book subject from what I'm used to reading. Love all the descriptive details, makes me feel as if I am there.
Sexual scenes. Basheba Everdeen entices 3 men in her village.
A farmer Gabriel Oak falls in love with her but she is not in love with him. Liked hearing of the sheep and their routines and when Gabriel realizes something is amiss.
Love hearing of the bartering to get a shepherd's hook. He finds her in a nearby town where she's become a farm owner via her uncle. She's so head strong.
Soldier Frank Troy needs to have the marriage bands announced....
Landowner William Baldwill-it's rumored he was jilted at the alter and that's effected him in later years...
Baldwill wants to marry her but again she's not in love with him. Love the chat about molting and shearing of the wool from the sheep.
Like legacy of pocket watch!
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device). ( )
  jbarr5 | Jul 9, 2015 |
Hardy, Thomas
Far From the Madding Crowd

This classic starts off in the usual ho-hum way of introducing a main character through a description of his lineage, how he came to be where we find him, and the background of his present occupation. Don't get complacent. Both the fate of the main character in Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust and the devastating beginning of Ian McEwan's Enduring Love could have been inspired by what befalls Gabriel Oak in these first few pages. While Hardy's work is dense with tragedy, it is the tragedy of being human, not of being a victim. Devastations are unleashed by moments of pique. All of the drama takes place without props outside on English lanes evoking a universality to the pain of being human and the realization that we can all be victimized by our own emotions. Hardy's prose captures landscapes, weather, and the emotional palettes of his characters with equal aplomb. Sharply pin-pointed prose reaches and awakens places in the psyche possibly rendered dormant by exposure to much duller fare. Two chapters appropriately named "Storm" and "Rain" stand out as examples of Hardy's incredible ability to describe weather. If you like weather to be part of your reading experience, M. C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series provides that, along with great characters and cozy mysteries to be solved. If you like unrelenting suffering, you will like Joyce Carol Oates' We Were the Mulvaneys, or the classic by A. J. Cronin, Hatter's Castle. Available on dvd: A Handful of Dust, Enduring Love, Hamish Macbeth, We Were the Mulvaneys, Far From the Madding Crowd (classic), and the Masterpiece Classic remake of Far From the Madding Crowd.
Recommended March 2014
1 vote dawsong | Jun 15, 2015 |
Another classic I have finally got around to reading. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Bathsheba Everdene and her trilogy of suitors Gabriel Oak, Sgt. Francis Troy and Boldwood. Bathsheba inherits her Uncle's farm near Weatherbury which is in the Casterbridge vicinity. Her first suitor is Gabriel, a shepherd who although rejected, becomes her mentor and friend. Boldwood is a wealthy neighbouring bachelor and land owner who becomes besotted with Bathsheba. She ends up marrying the dashing Sgt Troy who, unknown to her is a philanderer and dishonest. Of course within months she is disappointed in her decision and finds out about Troy's former lover Fanny. Troy chooses to "drown" for a period of time before returning to town at Christmas.
Very good story with beautiful descriptions of the landscape, the characters, relationships and dialogue. Hardy inserts comic relief with a cast of town folk. ( )
  MaggieFlo | May 22, 2015 |
When Bathsheba Everdene inherits her uncle's farm, she becomes a prominent citizen of Weatherbury, a village in 19th century England. Her status as an independent woman attracts a lot of attention, but she is confident and capable, managing the farm and her employees with relative ease.
Bathsheba's was an impulsive nature under a deliberative aspect. An Elizabeth in brain and a Mary Stuart in spirit, she often performed actions of the greatest temerity with a manner of extreme discretion.

For much of the day-to-day management she relies on Gabriel Oak, a shepherd who until recently had his own farm. Gabriel is quiet, reliable, and in love with Bathsheba, but she quickly dispenses with any notion of romance between the two of them. Enter two more suitors: Boldwood, an older well-established landowner & farmer, and Troy, a rakish soldier with bags of sex appeal. Boldwood makes his intentions known, and Bathsheba toys with him. With Troy, she is unable to keep the upper hand. Matters escalate on both fronts, and I will stop there so as not to spoil the story.

Hardy feared the English countryside was in decline. The rural idyll is front and center in this novel, of equal importance to the characters. The natural setting and the village inhabitants add considerably to the plot, and make up for certain elements that seemed a bit contrived. I also liked Hardy's depiction of a strong woman, unusual for the time period, and his ability to communicate so much about a character in a single, concise sentence, such as "Troy was never more clever than when absolutely at his wits' end."

I felt ambivalent about this book for the first half or so, but by the time I turned the last page I had found much to appreciate. ( )
  lauralkeet | May 10, 2015 |
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Editions: 0141439653, 0141198931

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