Read Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy Online

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‘…the past was yesterday; the future, tomorrow; never, the next day’It's the 1870s and Bathsheba Everdene is a woman ahead of her time.Within the confines of rural English society, her independence and impulsive nature quickly land her at the heart of a web of love and lies. Three very different men hope to claim her. But Bathsheba is fickle. And as she forges her own path‘…the past was yesterday; the future, tomorrow; never, the next day’It's the 1870s and Bathsheba Everdene is a woman ahead of her time.Within the confines of rural English society, her independence and impulsive nature quickly land her at the heart of a web of love and lies. Three very different men hope to claim her. But Bathsheba is fickle. And as she forges her own path through the politics of love and marriage, disaster follows in her wake.Far from the Madding Crowd is a tale of loyalty, obsession and tragedy from a storytelling master....

Title : Far from the Madding Crowd
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781409150381
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 410 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Far from the Madding Crowd Reviews

  • Moonlight Reader
    2019-03-09 21:39

    Two people have complained that there are spoilers in this review. Read at your own peril. Hi! I'm Bathsheba Everdene!And I'm Poor Decision-Making Bathsheba Everdene.I sent a random Valentine to a guy on a neighboring farm asking him to marry me, even though I don't even like him! This turned him into an annoying semi-stalker who spent the next several years begging me to marry him for reals!And then, in a further display of my terrible judgment, I married a philandering asshole who only wanted my money and my luminescent beauty! The girl he really loved starved to death with his unwanted child, so he spent a bunch of my money to buy her a really great headstone, and then ran away to join the circus!And then, when he came back from the circus for no reason whatsoever, the semi-stalker shot him. AT CHRISTMAS! In front of the whole county.Don't be like this me!Marry Gabriel Oak on page 25, like you should have, you silly cow.

  • Anne
    2019-03-21 01:09

    This was just so good."Sheep are such unfortunate animals! - there's always something happening to them! I never knew a flock pass a year without getting into some scrape or other." Sheep!Sheeeeeep!!More sheep!!!I love sheep :) They are so cute! But sheep are actually not the reason why I love this book so much. That would be silly. But I do love the fact that Gabriel Oak was a shepherd, and not say, a pig farmer. Anyways! Even though this story takes place in rural Wessex and is filled with sheep and fields and moonlit nights and beautiful descriptions, there is a lot more to it than just animals and landscapes. Far From the Madding Crowd is the poignant, moving and brilliant story of Bathsheba Everdene and her three suitors. "Love is a possible strength in an actual weakness."Bathsheba Everdene; strong, wilful, independent and, above all, beautiful, Bathsheba is a woman ahead of her time. She doesn't shy away from work, she is courageous, intrepid and cannot be tamed. I read a lot of romances in which the heroines do nothing more than sip afternoon tea while entertaining callers, and attend balls and soirees and drink the waters in Bath. But here, we have a heroine who can do it, who is a farmer and takes on a lot of duties. She starts out as her own bailiff, superintends and manages everything, and boldly enters the world of market, a world of men. Bathsheba is unique and attractive, and she turned every man's head. "She was of the stuff of which great men's mothers are made. She was indispensable to high generation, hated at tea parties, feared in shops, and loved at crises."Enter Suitor #1!Gabriel Oak. What a man. I'm completely head over heels in love with him! "I shall do one thing in this life - one thing certain - that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die."Gabriel is the kind of man you feel completely safe and secure around. He's the type who cherishes and protects those he loves (sheep or otherwise :P)and he's always there to save the day (I lost count of how many times he did it during the course of the novel), counsel, or simply to lend a should to cry on. He is so reliable, honest and trustful that one can tell him anything, and confide any secret to him; he's sure to keep it and give you good advice. Oak has moreover incredible self-control. He's not a man you need to fear. If you tell him you don't want to marry him, he sucks it up and humbly accepts it even though he may be hopelessly in love with you, and will never bother you with advances and declarations again, unless you hint that you are ready to welcome them. Gabriel is also the kind of employee that every employer wants. He is serious, hard-working, always alert, and extremely helpful. He's constantly going the extra length to make sure that everything is running smoothly on the farm, and that all is well and working. He falls in love with Bathsheba early on, so early in fact that it is difficult to figure out what he sees in her to make him love her so. Being poor, he has nothing to offer her save his love and all his wonderful qualities, but unfortunately that is not enough for Miss-Stubborn-Bathsheba-Everdene. So, enter Suitor #2!William Boldwood. Possesses most of the qualities listed above, plus money and property! Should be good enough for you this time, Bathsheba, eh? "'My life is a burden without you', he exclaimed, in a low voice. 'I want you - I want you to let me say I love you again and again!'"Mr. Boldwood starts out as the epitome of thriving bachelorhood. He presents the picture of a hard-working, serious and brooding man who is quite happy living and working alone, and who hasn't wasted a thought on women and marriage in years. No woman, no troubles, no drama. Everything is going really well for him, and he did sound like a very good man; poised, composed, upright principles, good ways of living, etc...In short, he's quite a catch, and any woman who married him would be assured protection, security, and a good position...and undying passion?With Boldwood, it's all or nothing. Either he doesn't give any woman a thought, or he will give one woman all his thoughts. And the lucky girl is...Bathsheba Everdene! Wee! Brace yourselves, because Boldwood is as stubborn as Bathsheba and about to make a complete cake of himself by not being able to take no for an answer. He probably proposes over fifty times during the course of the novel. Not a good sign."It was a fatal omission of Boldwood's that he had never once told her she was beautiful."Cue Suitor #3!Sergeant Francis Troy. No good qualities (okay, maybe a few), no money, no position, no house, BUT...GOOD LOOKS AND SENSUALITY! HELL YES!!!"'I've seen a good many women in my time, [..] but I've never seen a woman so beautiful as you.'"Sergeant Troy is the handsome, seductive rake who has no morals and no apparent life purpose. The past and the future mean nothing to him. He is careless, impulsive, rash and a complete asshole. But he is charming and tantalizing to a fault, and knows only too well how to infiltrate himself into women's lives. When the lovely Bathsheba catches his eye, he becomes caught in the moment and would give anything to win her...but does he love her? And, more importantly, does she love him? Alas, her vanity has at last been flattered! "When a strong woman recklessly throws away her strength she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to throw away."Who doesn't love a good Victorian love-triangle?! ;) Caught in the web of their own self-inflicted actions and the resulting consequences, these characters will have to go through a series of trials and events, happy and sad, trying and uplifting, before we come to a satisfactory conclusion. The story is written in an incredibly beautiful, flowing and passionate way, full of quotable parts (as we can observe since I can't seem to stop quoting!) and extraordinary descriptions. I enjoyed every single minute I spent reading this novel. And I also learned a lot of things, too.Lessons to Remember From Far From the Madding Crowd:*When you live in a hut and make a fire, always keep one window open unless you want to suffocate to death.*Sheep, although very cute, are pretty dumb animals.*Cover your ricks when it rains!!!!*Sending a random Valentine to your elder bachelor neighbour is not exactly a good idea. *Especially if said Valentine says "Marry Me" on the seal (why the heck did she have a seal that said 'marry me' in the first place anyways?), and you have absolutely no intention of ever marrying that man for real. *Sheep can die from eating clover (and only a certain capable, skillful, heart-melting shepherd can save them).*Watch out when planting flowers around graves...*Don't keep anything in your hands or close by when you go to a fair and are sitting next to the canvas (stealers, ya know!).*Don't freaking trust bailiffs! Those guys are overrated. Be your own bailiff! Unless you can have Gabriel Oak. Always choose Gabriel if you can!*DON'T LEAD MEN ON WHEN YOU HAVE NO INTENTION OF GETTING INTIMATE WITH THEM!!!*Don't make promises/proposals or any other kind of rash demands on Christmas Eve/Christmas day, so as to not ruin your enjoyment of the holiday if it goes awry. *Don't buy things for your future significant other in preparation for your hypothetical wedding (effin' weird, seriously!).*Don't creep up during the night to ride your own horse if you weren't expected at home (stealers , ya know, again!).*When you feel overwhelmed and completely distressed, spend the night in a marsh! The dense, stifling air will help clear your head.*Don't keep your husband's ex-girlfriend's coffin inside your house. May cause serious breakdowns. *And, last but not least, ALWAYS ASK ABOUT THEIR EXES!!!Honestly though, on a scale of 1 to Mr. Boldwood, I have definitely reached his level of obsession with this book, and have spent the whole day repeatedly stating that I finished it, and it was so good, and I can't wait to see the movie, and ahhh!!!!!I loved this. Every bit is delicious, from Gabriel's tender devotion to Boldwood's mad obsession and Troy's promising passion, along with Bathsheba's evolutions and strengths and weaknesses. Hardy was certainly one love expert. Wow.And Wessex! I want to go there!So beautiful :)"What a way Oak had, she thought, of enduring things. Boldwood, who seemed so much deeper and higher and stronger in feeling than Gabriel, had not yet learnt, any more than she herself, the simple lesson which Oak showed a mastery of by every turn and look he gave - that among the multitude of interests by which he was surrounded, those which affected his personal well-being were not the most absorbing and important in his eyes."*Sigh* That too, is beautiful. And it perfectly sums up the whole book (minus Troy's shenanigans). And it is why I love Gabriel so much. Buddy read with Becca!! :D

  • Apatt
    2019-02-28 22:49

    "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 George Eliot) 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, Jude the Obscure was the first, I found Jude the Obscure 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.May 1, 2015 that is.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 Jude the Obscure, 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 readers would want the book to end just like this and perhaps Hardy did not want to alienate his 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 Tess of the d'Urbervilles yet but it sounds really depressing. Can't wait!Notes: I do love to read Hardy's unique brand of depressing fun, if you like this review I hope you will check out my other Hardy reviews:• Tess of the D'Urbervilles • Jude the Obscure• The Mayor of Casterbridge • The Return of the Native • The Woodlanders • I have not seen any of the film adaptations if you have please let me know what you think in the comments, thanks.

  • Henry Avila
    2019-03-09 17:39

    Bathsheba Everdene a gorgeous, mesmerizing young woman, 22, ( the formerly poor, now rich girl ) she inherited a prosperous, large farm from her late uncle, set in rural Wessex , ( Dorset ) southwest England, in the 1860's, has three, very different suitors, common Gabriel Oak, eight years older a shepherd and fine flute player, who will soon lose his sheep, the first time he sees her, Miss Everdene is admiring herself in a hand mirror and smiling, William Boldwood, a wealthy, good looking farmer and neighbor but middle -aged -bachelor, at 40, when she sends the rather standoffish man, as a silly joke anonymously, a Valentine's Day card, telling him to marry her, he falls insanely in love, after discovering the identity of the writer and the handsome, dashing, irresistible, youthful rake, Sergeant Francis "Frank" Troy, a couple of years her senior in the British cavalry, he woos by displaying his amazing swordsmanship, that both scares and thrills her , it is no surprise the winner of this contest. Miss Everdene has only one real friend and confidant, her patient loyal servant Liddy, they are always together in her huge house, the independent but still frightened woman, is strangely lonely, running the big farm solely, with no experience to guide her. A few days after Bathsheba's arrival a pretty, pleasant maid of the house, Fanny Robin, 20, mysteriously disappears into the night, rumors say she fled to be with her lover a soldier in a nearby town, but nobody can be sure. Later after turning down marriage proposals from Mr. Oak and Mr. Boldwood, to her ultimate regret and considerable sufferings , Bathsheba secretly weds the unstable, ( not in her own village of Weatherbury, but in another small community) the fickle Mr. Troy, she was understandably dazzled. But Frank soon becomes restless, bored, his nature is to wander, he has little to do on the farm, the unemployed but capable Gabriel, hired to work there, has taken charge of the laborers and farm, also the love distracted Mr. Boldwood's land too. By accident Troy meets Fanny on a deserted road with his wife, he recognizes her in the dark , Bathsheba doesn't, but grows very suspicious, the unfortunate girl needs immediate help, Frank gives her a little money and promises Miss Robin, to see her the next day...But unforeseen events prevents that from happening , and terrible consequences occur because of this. A classic novel , Thomas Hardy's first big success, is his only real "happy ending" book but tragedy , turmoil and heartbreak abounds, the unforgiving countryside is shown as beautiful but harsh, and mournful, the people are a lot brighter than they were given credit for then, still life is never easy, mistakes are made and deaths follow, a masterpiece in literature.

  • Helene Jeppesen
    2019-03-05 18:48

    What a story! I was going to give it 4 stars, but the ending was so intense and wrapped everything up so beautifully that I had to rate it 5 stars. What I love the most about this book is that it deals with an unorthodox woman. Bathsheba (I know, what a name?) is admired by a lot of men; still, she keeps on rejecting them one after another. She doesn't want to be like every other woman at that time who marries the first man to propose and has children. Bathsheba is stubborn and she's insecure, and she takes the reader (and all her suitors) on quite a journey. She's human and she just wants to make the right choice, and I loved her for that. This was my first book by Thomas Hardy, and one of the first things I noticed about his writing was that he spends a lot of time on heavily detailed descriptions. In particular the beginning is filled with descriptions of the surroundings and nature, and while I was a bit frustrated to start with, I couldn't deny the fact that these descriptions were beautiful and really set the mood for the book. I loved this story because it's honest and very relevant. Read it with an open mind, and I'm sure you'll end up appreciating it as much as I do :) (Now I've got to watch the movie...)

  • Jr Bacdayan
    2019-03-04 18:06

    "The poetry of motion is a phrase much in use, and to enjoy the epic form of that gratification it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the mass of civilized mankind, who are dreamwrapt and disregardful of all such proceedings at this time, long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars."While I was in the midst of reading this novel, I was struck by general wonderment with regards to the title of this book. Why "Far From the Madding Crowd"? It had always seemed that Thomas Hardy bestowed titles in the form of the book's protagonist. Why not Bathsheba of Weatherbury or The Mistress of Weatherbury or Bathsheba the Complicated? Why this vague title? And then it hit me. Far From the Maddening Crowd is the embodiment of what we feel when we're in love. When one is a victim of cupid's arrow, one tends to think of nothing but infatuation. It becomes your strength, your weakness, your nourishment, your insomnia. Your attention is deflected by this love-centric desire. You may seem to do trivial things, the body may work but the mind wanders. In essence, you are far away from everything going around you that have nothing to do with the person you love. You live in a suspended reality where the face of your darling is both the sun and the moon. You live far from the crowd, which is madding, because it has nothing to do with your romance. As stated in the excerpt I selected to start this review with, "it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the mass of civilized mankind, who are dreamwrapt and disregardful of all such proceedings at this time" if you are to watch your proceedings through the stars. The title may very well be Hardy's most romantic.Bathsheba Everdene, described as a free-spirited, independent, and strong-willed woman named after King David's queen, Uriah the Hittite's wife, Solomon's mother is subject to much scrutiny. Many people find fault in her apparent fall from Hardy's descriptions. She becomes weak, slavish, and inconsistent especially with regards to her love with Sergeant Troy. Hardy is often accused of gender-stereotyping and sometimes rightly so. There are instances where he blames Bathsheba's weakness of character to her "womanliness". But I should say that it is unfair to accost him because of this. He did live in a society that practiced much worse treatments. You have to keep in mind that gender emancipation was not yet realized in 1874. I remember using this line of thought in my review of Tess, and I still stand by it. Though, I should add that Bathsheba's inconsistency with Sergeant Troy is mainly due to the type of love that they share, and is no fault of Mr. Hardy. I shall be getting to this in a minute.Three choices are presented to Bathsheba. The Sergeant Troy, the gentleman farmer Boldwood, and the shepherd Gabriel Oak, all three signifying different kinds of love. This, I believe is the main idea of the book, to enumerate and dissect the different kinds of love present in a lover's beating heart. Sergeant Troy's love, if it is to be called love at all, is known by the name of passion. It is physical attraction, the weakest of the three. It is easily suppressed and forgotten. Some may even call it lust, one of the seven deadly sins. If it is so, then it veers away from the goodness that we attribute to love. No wonder, Bathseba's relationship with Troy is destructive. It is also the reason, why I stated earlier, that Bathsheba becomes inconsistent when she is around Troy. For the temptation of lust weakens even the strongest and most virtuous of men. Bathsheba's flaws are clearly not a byproduct of gender, as some claim it to be, but it lies in human nature itself. This, I understand, should clear some misgivings about Mr. Hardy. Also, in application, I understand that most marriages are destroyed because a great number of couples mistake this passion for love and hastily vow forever. And so, when it is exhausted, as it easily is, the marriage falls apart. Exactly like Bathsheba and Troy. Moving on, farmer Boldwood's love, on the other hand, is a kind of wild and strong, yet self-centered love. It is strengthened to an insane proportion but it only seeks to appease itself, it doesn't consider the person it is being given to. It is like a fire burning and scorching everything in its path; it is a dangerous kind of love that will turn everything to dust after the love has been consumed. And as exemplified, this is the kind of love that makes people do crazy things, like murder. It is a love so self-centered that it will deny its recipient of happiness when rejected. Lastly, we come to shepherd Gabriel Oak's love. In contrast to Mr. Boldwood's self-centered love, this love is so great that Gabriel is willing to sacrifice his own happiness for the sake of hers. I believe this is the strongest of the three. Willing to consider, willing to endure, willing to suffer for the sake of one it loves. It may not be as bright as Troy's passion, or loud as Boldwood's insane self-love, but it is never wavering in its steady stream of purity. Like Oak, it is often ignored by its recipient in favor of those kinds much brighter and louder. But, also like Oak, when it is given the chance, it is the one that will last forever."Where, however, happy circumstances permit its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death - that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, beside which the passion usually called by the name is evanescent as steam." With regards to this, it just occurred to me that certain famous quotations about love are true. For Troy - Love is the strongest desire. For Boldwood - Love is blind. For Gabriel - Love conquers all. Forgive me, for these trifles. I just thought it ironic that all of them are correct, yet none of them talk of the same thing. Let me not detain you any longer, as I end, I should just like to admire Hardy's attitude with respect to love, and his attitude towards humanity in general. At first, I thought that the simple workfolk of Weatherbury were just background and were there only to provide humor in the story. But as the tale progressed, it became apparent that they were the echoes of Hardy's own beating heart. They embodied his appreciation for country living, for his Wessex, for Mother Nature, for the preservation of things old in this rapidly changing world, and lastly for his optimism in both love and life. As the great blusher Joseph Poorgrass (probably my favorite character) says as he closes the tale:"But 'tis as 'tis, why, it might have been worse, and I feel my thanks accordingly." I guess when it comes to love, romance, and relationships I'm not one to talk. I'm pretty certain I'm not an expert on these things, so I can't really give any insights or anything. Personally, all I do is echo: It is better to have loved and lost, than to not have loved at all. Hey, I feel my thanks too.

  • Shovelmonkey1
    2019-02-25 17:41

    Ah Far from the Madding Crowd, even saying the book title aloud summons images of an overcrowded class room, sweaty adolescents and a fraught English teacher. I was forced to read this book when I was about thirteen. Other books I was forced to read, learn and regurgitate in vast, ungainly and probably largely misunderstood swathes include Macbeth, Hamlet, Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead, Pride and Prejudice, A Winters Tale, The Colour Purple and Wuthering Heights. A diverse selection you might think. Yes indeed, diverse but with one key element in common. They all possess the correctly ordered group of elements required to send a class of teenagers into a coma. What? OK yes maybe that was a bit unfair. Not all teenagers, but certainly the clump of hormonally driven monsters that I shared my school years with anyway. A Winters Tale by Bill the Bard was my least favourite of all of these - frankly I thought it was a badly cobbled together parody, a poor imitation of his previous work. Yes that was what I thought at thirteen. Far from the Madding Crowd was second least favourite because it was set in a time where a man was judged on the number of sheep he owned which basically just spelled D-U-L-L to my uncomprehending eyes. However, looking at it now with the perception and clarity of an adult mind (hahahaha) I can see the merits of this text particularly some of its themes which are quite modern if you squint a bit and overlook the references to sheep and horse and carts. Bathsheba Everdene (great name!) arrives in a rural idyll and accidentally steals the heart of lonely shepherd Gabriel Oak (even better name). While she thinks Gabriel is alright, he's not exactly romantic dynamite and his offer of marriage is rebuffed in the hope of better things. Nowadays she could have married him, serialised the wedding as part of a reality TV show and then divorced straight after while still up to her arse in the detritus of plundered wrapping and opened gift boxes. But, this was days of yore so Bathsheba didn't have those kind of opportunities. Luckily for her in lieu of reality TV, a wealthy relative dies and she inherits a fortune. Gabriels fortunes on the other hand go rapidly down hill, or more to the point, over the edge of the hill. He unleashes a sheep dog with ADHD and it drives his flock over a cliff (swap Dodos "doom on you scene" in Iceage the Movie for sheep to obtain correct comedy effect). While luckless Gabriel ponders what to do with his sheep puree, Bathsheba acquires a few new admirers; the prosperous Boldwood and the dashing Troy. Boldwood is not really her cup of tea and the erroneous valentine was a big mistake - the 19th century equivalent of a drunken text message. Troy on the other hand has got the sort of allure possessed by Sean Bean in his Sharpe uniform and Bathsheba's head is turned by a spot of private sword play (dirty girl!). From here on in it is a comedy of errors, spurned lovers, missing persons and during this time Bathsheba racks up a rapid turnover of husbands which would have earned a round of applause from Liz Taylor. In the end, patient sheep-doctor Gabriel wins out and gets the girl. Not baaaa-d Gabriel!

  • Philip
    2019-02-19 18:07

    4.75ish stars. With a name like Bathsheba how much could we honestly expect from her? Imagine playing with her as a child, "Come here little Bathy-Bathy!" She was doomed from the start. And she was obviously one of those children who was told entirely too often how special she was and how pretty and how she could do anything she set her mind to. Poor Bathsheba. Not that it should need to be said for a novel that's almost 150 years old, but in case you still haven't read this and plan on doing so: Spoilers ahead. I love characters who are awful people, idiots, fools, douchebags and the like. But woof, there are some doozies here. How about that dog, Young George, eh? The nerve! One should never be too efficient at one's work! Naturally, he had to be put down. Okay, sorry, I just had to say something about him, the poor guy. :'(There are some very memorable key characters in this book, and not all of them are worthy of a punch in the face. There is, of course, one of my greatest literary man-crushes of all time, Gabriel Oak. But it's the small, supporting crowd that really elevates the book to favorite status. There's self-righteous but well-meaning Joseph Poorgrass, full of bible verses and pseudo-wisdom; sweet, simple Liddy Smallbury, Bathsheba's friend, confidant, doormat and indentured servant; the ol' maltster, coming up on 184 years of age give or take; and the true heroes of the story, namely the sheep.The writing is beautiful, if not a little long-winded and flowery when giving descriptions of the Wessex countryside. I get it, you've convinced me, it’s great to be far from the madding crowd. It's also chock-full of quotable quotes on a variety of subjects. Marriage: “All romances end at marriage.” “It may have been observed that there is no regular path for getting out of love as there is for getting in. Some people look upon marriage as a short cut that way, but it has been known to fail.” (on the day of Gabriel's and Bathsheba's wedding) ""Faith," said Coggan, in a critical tone, turning to his companions, "the man hev learnt to say 'my wife' in a wonderful naterel way, considering how very youthful he is in wedlock as yet-hey, neighbours all?" "I never heerd a skilful old married feller of twenty years' standing pipe 'my wife' in a more used note than 'a did," said Jacob Smallbury. "It might have been a little more true to nater if't had been spoke a little chillier, but that wasn't to be expected just now." "That improvement will come wi' time," said Jan, twirling his eye."Womanhood:“I am not a fool, you know, although I am a woman, and have my woman’s moments.” “Women are never tired of bewailing man’s fickleness in love, but they only seem to snub his constancy.”"I shall never forgive God for making me a woman, and dearly am I beginning to pay for the honour of owning a pretty face." Way to humblebrag, right?And my personal favorite:This supreme instance of Troy's goodness fell upon Gabriel's ears like the thirteenth stroke of a crazy clock.I'm gonna start using that expression day-to-day. I'm gonna make it a thing.Sarcasm and sketchy 19th-century sexism aside, Hardy really is a brilliant wordsmith and there are so many gems throughout the novel- wise commentary, clever dialogue, wry observations on human relationships. Speaking of sketchy 19th century sexism, let's talk about the Boldwood rape-gagement. If we didn't know that he was only forcing Bathsheba into a marriage blood oath, several statements could be taken way out of context when just a few filler words are omitted. What does it seem like they're talking about? :Boldwood: "But do give me your [--] . You owe it to me!"Bathsheba: "Don't press me too hard. [...] Pray let me go! I am afraid!" Boldwood: He begged in a husky voice unable to sustain the forms of mere friendship any longer. "Promise yourself to me; I deserve it, indeed I do. Be gracious and give up a little to me."Bathsheba: The trimmings of her dress, as they quivered against the light showed how agitated she was, and at last she burst out crying. "And you'll not-press me-about anything more?" she sobbed, when she had the power to frame her words.Boldwood: "Yes, then I'll leave it." Boldwood came close to her side, and now he clasped one of her hands in both his own, and lifted it to his --.Bathsheba: "What is it? Oh I cannot!" she exclaimed on seeing what he held. "Don't insist Boldwood- don't!" In her trouble at not being able to get her hand away from him at once, she stamped passionately on the floor with one foot, and tears crowded to her eyes again.Boldwood: "No sentiment- the seal of a practical compact," he said more quietly, but still retaining her hand in his firm grasp. "Come, now!" And Boldwood slipped the -- on her --"Bathsheba: She said, weeping as if her heart would break. "You frighten me. Please let me go!"Boldwood: "Only to-night: just to-night, to please me!"Bathsheba: At length she said, in a sort of hopeless whisper- "Very well, then. I will-to-night, if you wish it so earnestly."Boldwood: "And it shall be the beginning of a pleasant --?Bathsheba: "It must be, I suppose, since you will have it so!" she said, fairly beaten into non-resistance.Boldwood: "Boldwood pressed [his] -- and allowed it to drop in her lap. "I am happy now," he said. "God!"(Afterward) He left the room, and when he thought she might be sufficiently composed sent one of the maids to her. Bathsheba cloaked the effects of the late scene as she best could.Heavy stuff.But finally in all seriousness, this book, when it comes down to it, is not a flippant romance. It isn't the Bachelorette. It isn't love at first sight. Bathsheba and Gabriel end up with something deeper and more meaningful and true:“This good fellowship - camaraderie - usually occurring through the similarity of pursuits is unfortunately seldom super-added to love between the sexes, because men and women associate, not in their labors but in their pleasures merely. Where, however, happy circumstances permit its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death - that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, besides which the passion usually called by the name is as evanescent as steam.”Honestly, the kind of relationship I respect and strive for.

  • Diane
    2019-02-21 23:03

    I loved escaping into this 19th-century English novel. I dove into it and found both comfort and sustenance.One of my reading goals for 2017 is to make time for classics I haven't read yet, and Far From the Madding Crowd was perfect because this was my first Thomas Hardy book. The fact that I enjoy novels set in the English countryside was just a lucky bonus.I had seen two different movie versions of the book, so I was familiar with the basic story: Strong Woman Refuses Wonderful Man; then Strong Woman Taunts Another Wonderful Man; and finally Strong Woman Foolishly Marries Total Jerk. Chaos Ensues until Strong Woman Comes To Senses and Marries First Wonderful Man.I love the character of Bathsheba Everdene, and how she wanted to defy the traditional role of women. (Fun trivia: the writer of the Hunger Games series reportedly named her heroine Katniss Everdeen as an homage to Bathsheba.) I also loved the character of Gabriel Oak (aka Wonderful Man), and despised Sergeant Troy. And how could you not pity Farmer Boldwood for the way Bathsheba flirted with him?Far from the Madding Crowd was first published in 1874, and reading this more than 140 years later, it's difficult to appreciate how groundbreaking some aspects of this story were for the time. I liked this note about Hardy's candor from the Introduction to my edition: "It was imperative that the 'things which everybody is thinking but nobody is saying ... be taken up and treated frankly' — and for Hardy this included such unmentionable 'things' as female sexuality (and) illegitimacy."I just adored this novel — I liked the prose and I enjoyed spending time with these characters. Five stars to Mr. Hardy for letting me escape into the English countryside for a week, even if things are never as calm and quiet as they appear.Favorite Quotes"It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.""A resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible.""It may have been observed that there is no regular path for getting out of love as there is for getting in. Some people look upon marriage as a short cut that way, but it has been known to fail.""Bathsheba loved Troy in the way that only self-reliant women love when they abandon their self-reliance. When a strong woman recklessly throws away her strength she is worse than a weak woman who has never any strength to throw away. One source of her inadequacy is the novelty of the occasion. She has never had practice in making the best of such a condition. Weakness is doubly weak by being new.""I am not a fool, you know, although I am a woman, and have my woman’s moments.""To persons standing alone on a hill during a clear midnight such as this — the roll of the world eastward is almost a palpable movement. The sensation may be caused by the panoramic glide of the stars past earthly objects, which is perceptible in a few minutes of stillness; or by a fancy that the better outlook upon space afforded by a hill emphasizes terrestial revolution; or by the wind; or by the solitude; but whatever be its origin the impression of riding along is vivid and abiding. The poetry of motion is a phrase much in use, and to enjoy the epic form of that gratification it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the night, and, first enlarging the consciousness with a sense of difference from the mass of civilized mankind, who are horizontal and disregardful of all such proceedings at this time, long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars. After such a nocturnal reconnoitre among these astral clusters, aloft from the customary haunts of thought and vision, some men may feel raised to a capability for eternity at once.""Fitness being the basis of all beauty, nobody could have denied that his steady swings and turns in and about the flock had elements of grace."

  • Graham Herrli
    2019-03-09 00:05

    The only emotions that this book evoked for me were boredom and annoyance. The boredom stemmed largely from its predictable plotline and its verbose narrative style (and its utter failure to engage me intellectually, which may have made this verbosity pardonable). The annoyance stemmed from Hardy's method of creating the protagonist, Bathsheba. He repeatedly describes Bathsheba as being self-willed, confident, independent, and poised; but he only tells us this about her, while her actions demonstrate a considerable lack of these characteristics. He has a habit of writing in sweeping generalizations about the nature of "women," often describing such nature in its supposed relation to Bathsheba. Each time he tells us of her supposed independence, he does so with the implicit, and often explicit, assumption that what he is saying about her sets her apart from that which defines women in general, yet his negative stereotypes about women later manifest themselves in the actions which he gives to Bathsheba.

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-03-06 21:00

    846. Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas HardyFar from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy, C1874Characters: Gabriel Oak, Bathsheba Everdene, William Boldwood, Francis Troy, Fanny Robin.Abstract: Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in Wessex, Hardy's novel of swiftpassion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about relationships.عنوانها: به دور از مردم شوریده؛ دور از اجتماع خشمگين؛ نویسنده: تامس هاردی؛ (نشر نو) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: یازدهم ماه مارس سال 2004 میلادیعنوان: «به دور از مردم شوريده»، یا «دور از اجتماع خشمگين»؛ اثر: «توماس هاردی»؛ برگردان: «ابراهیم یونسی»؛ نشر: فرهنگ نشر نو، 1382، در 536 ص، شابک: 9647443188شخصیت رمان دختری ست زیبا به نام «بت شبا»، که پس از مرگ پدر و مادر با خاله اش زندگی می‌کند. گله‌ داری به نام «گابریل اوک» بسیار به وی علاقمند است. گابریل بر اثر سانحه‌ ای گوسفندان را از دست می‌دهد، و به کارگری جویای کار بدل می‌شود. شبی گابریل در راه گذر خویش، شعله‌ های آتشی را می‌بیند که مزرعه‌ ای را میسوزاند. گابریل برای خاموش کردن آتش تمام توان خویش به کار می‌گیرد، و با کمک اهالی روستا، آتش را خاموش می‌کنند. با صاحب مزرعه که رو در رو می‌شود، «بت شبا» را می‌بیند که از او برای کمکش تشکر می‌کند. گابریل درمی‌یابد که مزرعه میراثی ست که از یکی از اقوام «بت شبا» به او رسیده است. بدینسان «گابریل» مشاور مزرعه دختر شده در آن جا کار و زندگی می‌کند؛ اما «بت شبا» با دیگری از خواستگاران خویش به نام گروهبان «تروی» ازدواج می‌کند و ادامه داستان. ا. شربیانی

  • Luffy
    2019-02-20 20:49

    For my O Level year, I had to make a choice. Either take English literature as my option, or take Hindi. I took the latter. Had I taken the former, I would have read Far From The Madding Crowd in my teens.Now I'm in my late thirties. The mistake of passing over English Lit has been rectified, if only partly. I remember noticing my friends taking a hefty paperback tome to read their book assigned to them. How would I know that one day I'll be reading the book on a device that's so light, regardless of how long or chunky a book should be.I would lie if I said that I was connected as one with the book. Or that I understood every single word among its pages. Yet I have a feeling of satiety, of wholeness and accomplishment. Far From the Madding Crowd has a pastoral setting. The characters are immortal. The writing style is confident. Never shaky.The denouement of the plot is like a set of fast exchanges on a chess board. How does Gabriel Oak fare? How strong is the love of the main female character - Bathsheba - for her first flame? The loose ends are tied. There's a happy ending. Most of the book points to one direction. The resolution is a twist in itself, confounding the previous indications. Though some chapters of the book are slow as hell, and the pacing grinds to a still-life halt, the sands of time make themselves felt. You know that you are reading a Classic. This classic is indeed, a page turner, and a crowd pleaser, especially when compared to the author, Thomas Hardy's other books.

  • Samra Yusuf
    2019-03-03 20:00

    “It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.” So I'm reading Classics these daysand what a "classy-classic" it all is!Hardy always gives me hard-time around while reading any of his work and I find myself in utter bewilderment what to make of it.....Is he a pessimistic-shitty gruesome that leads his way-ward stories more wayward just to annoy you??Or he is a true gifted writer that has a honed skill to roam you in vast-rural lands with him and make you awestruck??I think the man is combo of both..The thing with this one now?Well,The story itself is not so remarkably, nor terribly original, however, it is the characters and the setting (Hardy is a master at building an atmosphere) which give this book real texture and make it truly memorable.Hardy's depiction of rural life in the 19th century is spot on and spellbinding. I was so drawn up in what was happening to the various characters that I couldn't put it down. At times the story is moving, funny, dramatic and frightening, but it's never less than utterly readable. Surely this is one of the great plots to be found in a novel, with Hardy's excellent style complementing it just right.so its quite proven now,Man is not wholly-shitty......This is a book to indulgently escape into and be escorted to another era, where language is pure poetry and words whispered can tell of secrets and love. Here a thing to be mentioned truly The language is beautiful when describing nature and buildings. The dialogue is less strong. Perhaps I am being unfair in judging it by modern standards, but it just doesn't ring true. The melodrama is just a bit too much for me – not-intended-to-be-funny dialogue made me laugh out loud. Perhaps it hasn't stood the test of time? Why can’t Hardy, who can describe a church with such an abundance of words and beautiful phrases (proof of great observational powers), apply that eye to a woman so that she is a recognizable three-dimensional human? The buildings and trees have heft and depth; the women are caricatures.And the protagonist is simply-stupid without a doubtbut even theneven then the book is one remarkable and adorable lest you see it otherwise!

  • Melki
    2019-03-20 19:44

    I almost didn't read this book, the February selection for my real-life book club. It seemed rather dull and there's a huge stack of yummier-looking books calling my name, saying "Read ME next!" BUT, since I'm the one who's always bitching to the group about how we need to read more classics, it seemed in poor taste for me to give this one a miss. And, I'm glad I read it.Even though Hardy's writing style took some getting used to. It's sort of wordy. Okay, it's really wordy. Near the beginning, there are two entire pages that could easily be summed up as: It was night. The stars were bright. Farmer Oak played his flute.Even though bad things happen to lots of sheep and a dog.Even though Bathsheba Everdene, due to her wishy-washy dithering, is way, WAY up there on the list of characters I'd like to punch, sharing the company of Holden Caulfield and Adela Quested.Once again - glad I read it, but equally glad it's over. I doubt I'll ever read it again. It didn't rock my world, but I didn't hate it.

  • Margitte
    2019-03-17 22:43

    There are several books titled Far From The Madding Crowd on GR. I was inspired to read Thomas Hardy's Victorian novel after reading Roger Brunyate's excellent review.Published in 1874 for the first time as a novel, it depicted the social upheaval resulting from the changes in rural life in the industrial era. Customs and traditions disintegrated, and with that the security, stability and dignity it brought for the inhabitants. It was a period in which religious, political, scientific, and social values entered the age of modernism.Thomas Hardy used the weather as character in the plot, and added Fate as the driving force behind the events. Man was not in control of his own destiny, and women acted as Fate's power over men. But Fate was also nestled in the weather.Well, that's how I saw it. Three men's fate changed when they met the beautiful, unconventional, independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. She became a farmer on the largest estate in Weatherbury (note the name) and drew three very different suitors into her parlor - like the spider and the flies. :-)There was the bachelor gentleman-farmer Boldwood; soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy -who could not leave women alone; as well as the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. The mating rituals disrupted the community and lead to tragedy. Ms. Everdene made inroads upon the emotional constitution of all three men, and that's mildly stated :-) The story line is as strong as the plot, and above all, the author's philosophical view points is shared with the reader about the devastating effect of the industrial revolution on agriculture and the lives of everyone involved. The fundamental beliefs were shaken to their core. The novel raises the moral question of what is a good life and what is the reward.The story was so atmospheric, like most Victorian novels, but had the surprising (for me) addition of sexuality as an condiment to a social salad. Done tastefully and very dignified, I must add. It is perhaps the reason why I so enjoyed it.One cannot be unaware of Hardy's sense of the unity of man with nature: the eternal hills of his Wessex, the sounds of wind and weather, the ever-circling constellations, the light at different times of day and different seasons, the growth of vegetation, and the behavior of living creatures. His characters convey a general feeling of being a part of the universe; his narrative captures its rhythms. Far from the madding crowd, he seems to say, man comes into his own. I derived the same enjoyment from this tale as The Mill On The Floss by George Eliot, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, and a few others. Thomas Hardy though, had a unique way of blending a social and historical background with his personal philosophy, without being fanatical or overpowering, and created characters that would forever stand out from the crowd.A brilliant novel which withstood the test of time. A FANTASTIC READ!RECOMMENDED.

  • Kim
    2019-03-19 02:06

    Far from the Madding Crowd is one of the three Thomas Hardy novels I’d read by the time I turned twenty. The others were Tess of the Durbervilles and Jude the Obscure. My twenty-year-old self was irritated by Tess’ passivity and found Jude’s life too depressing to contemplate. However, this novel had a few laughs and a conventionally happy ending, so even though it also has its fair share of madness, depression, despair and death, I was content to say that I liked it. I didn’t like it enough to make me want to read it again, though. Many, many years later I’ve come to a new appreciation of Hardy’s work, which started with listening to and loving audiobook versions of The Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge and Under the Greenwood Tree. With such positive experiences under my belt, I tackled Jude the Obscure and Tess of the d’Urbervilles in the same format and found, much to my surprise, that Tess no longer annoyed me as she had before and that Jude filled me with compassion rather than made me feel depressed. My current reaction to Hardy’s novels may just be a factor of age and life experience. But for whatever reason, I now respond emotionally and not just intellectually to their elements of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy. Hardy’s characters move me deeply and I’m equally moved by his intensely poetic prose. I particularly love the painterly way in which Hardy describes the location of his novels: the geography, the nature, the architecture – all are rendered in colour, light and shade.And so to Far from the Madding Crowd. It has the reputation of being the sunniest of Hardy’s novels. That reputation is, I think, undeserved. Tragedy it’s not, but it’s still a more serious and weighty offering than Under the Greenwood Tree. The narrative is straightforward enough. The heroine, Bathsheba Everdene, is courted by three very different men: the steady, reliable and aptly named Gabriel Oak, the repressed and stalkerish William Boldwood and the dashing Bad Boy, Frank Troy. In dealing with these three relationships, Hardy explores themes including the relationship between chance and moral responsibility and the inherent danger of romantic love. The three central characters are supplemented by a chorus of farmworkers and the tragic Fanny Robin, whose fate is central to the plot.As much as I appreciate Hardy’s writing, I tend to have issues with his female characters. Bathsheba Everdene is no exception. Early on this time around, my reaction to her was similar to my reaction to the character played by Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Yes, I understand that she’s beautiful, but given her personality I don’t really understand why she would inspire anyone to undying devotion. However, Bathsheba won me over, up to a point anyway. She’s flawed, but not completely lacking insight into her flaws and she develops over the course of the novel. I listened to an audiobook edition narrated by English actor Jamie Parker. He does an excellent job, including with the female voices. This is no mean feat for a male narrator. All in all, this was a worthwhile literary experience. My 20-year-old self feels validated.

  • Amy | shoutame
    2019-02-22 21:05

    Definitely one of my favourite classics of the year so far! This novel centres around a female character name Bathsheba Everdene and the events that befall her as she tries to make her way in the world. When she takes ownership of a family farm she is quickly picked out by many men in the village and soon has a fair few marriage proposals. She must make up her mind as to who she is and what she plans on doing. Once she has made her choice she must make her bed and lie in it!I found this to be such an enjoyable read - I really love books set in this time period, I find the characters and the decisions they make to be rather amusing! My favourite character by far was Gabriel Oak - what a top bloke! This was my first novel by Hardy and I have since picked up Tess of the D'Urbevilles. I would highly recommend this one to all!

  • Alex
    2019-03-01 21:05

    Thomas Hardy writes often about women, with a sympathy that looks a little like contempt. In Far From the Madding Crowd he lays out the options available to Bathsheba Everdene (yes, Katniss is named after her): Frank Troy is the dashing adventurer, charming and dissipated. He ensnares her in a ferny grove, showing off his swordplay. ("It will not take five minutes," he says, and we picture Hardy snickering.) Boldwood is the older, stolid man, a rural Casaubon, representing security and the abdication of passion. And right in between them is Gabriel Oak, "only an every-day sort of man," the Goldilocks middle. But Bathsheba doesn't seem well-suited to any of them; even Oak doesn't really attract her. "I want somebody to tame me; I am too independent; and you would never be able to, I know." Maybe taming isn't really her thing. "Though she scarcely knew the divinity's name, Diana was the goddess whom Bathsheba instinctively adored." Diana, the goddess of chastity. "But a husband - ""Well!""Why, he'd always be there, as you say; whenever I looked up, there he'd be."Ugh, right? Husbands. So the question isn't just which man will Bathsheba choose, but why should she choose anyone at all?It's all serious business, of course, but people forget that Hardy can be funny. He throws out phrases like "rather deathy," and there are cracks like this: "There is no regular path for getting out of love as there is for getting in. Some people look upon marriage as a short cut that way, but it has been known to fail." Not the most original joke, even back then, but it's still funny.He's second to none in describing nature. He can set a scene like no one else. Here he describes the countryside in an impending storm:The moon...had a lurid metallic look. The fields were sallow with impure light, and all were tinged with monochrome, as if beheld through stained glass.And the scenes he sets in these vivid landscapes are infinitely memorable, too. His books always contain a few gloriously melodramatic setpieces: the audacious climax of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, the "too menny" of Jude the Obscure. Here, in addition to the sexy swordplay with Troy, there's a decisive midnight lightning storm, and the long walk of Fanny Robin. This is one of the two reasons I love Hardy: in each book, I know I'll get a few scenes I'll never forget.The other is the schadenfreude. His books would get glummer as he grew, culminating in the misery porn of Jude the Obscure; Madding Crowd is by comparison light reading. But he's still going to trample your heart. Earlier authors like Dickens and even Eliot wrote books where every plot development followed inevitably from the actions of their characters. But for Hardy, again and again, despite the best intentions and noblest natures of his characters, fate throws a wrench in. This Murphy's Law is one of the reasons Hardy seems like such a pessimist. (The other is that everybody dies miserable and alone.) The action in Madding Crowd is kicked off by the chance destruction of most of Oak's sheep (discovered in a bloody heap at the base of a cliff, in another of Hardy's vivid images). Boldwood's storyline begins with a nonchalant prank. (Which, btw, I didn't really buy; that's a rare case where Hardy's plot manipulation shows.)So vicissitudes prey on our characters; fate slaps them around. (view spoiler)[And when Bathsheba finally chooses Oak, it's not exactly a happy ending. I mean, compared to Hardy's later work it's ecstatic - only some people die miserable and alone! - but it's ambivalent. "Oak laughed, and Bathsheba smiled (for she never laughed readily now)." The final sentence, given to one of the farmhands: "Since 'tis as 'tis, why, it might have been worse, and I feel my thanks accordingly." Bathsheba has been pretty thoroughly beaten down here; she flees to Oak's solidness, and it might have been worse, but it might have been better too. (hide spoiler)] How happy do you think the ending is?

  • Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
    2019-03-05 21:39

    Update--10/14/2012: I just completed a re-read of this novel. The more I read it, the more I realize that it is simply exquisitely plotted and written. Hardy-the-poet shines through on just about every page as he describes the pastoral Wessex landscape and the country rustics that occupy it. This is truly a gem of a novel, and one of my favorites by Hardy.***I just completed re-reading Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd, and just fell in love with it all over again! The first time I read the novel was last summer as a serialized group read with one of my groups on Shelfari.com. I loved it the first time through, but realized that I could find even more in it with a careful re-reading. I did.It really is a beautiful novel, and so very well written with an engaging plot. The novel is loaded with allusion, much of it biblical; and even the character's names -- Bathsheba Everdene, Gabriel Oak, Farmer Boldwood, Fanny Robin, and Sergeant Frank Troy -- evoke comparisons to vivid images, scenes from Nature, or historical or mythological personages.Hardy's ability to inextricably link the pastoral landscape of his Wessex countryside with the emotions and thoughts of his characters is remarkable. As in The Return of the Native and the landscape of the Egdon Heath, Hardy makes the rolling hills, woodlands, hay fields and sheep pastures surrounding Weatherbury as much a primary protagonist and character in the novel as the human characters themselves. His prose associated with the placement and movement of the novel's human players within this landscape becomes almost lyrical and poetic; and as I am sure he intended, reflects his interpretation and representation of a time and place in southwestern England that was important to him, but is part of that heritage of what it means to be 'English.'The story of the romantic 'square' involving Gabriel Oak, Bathsheba Everdene, Farmer Boldwood, and Frank Troy is a tale that resonates in each of us. We can relate, at different times, to the motives and actions of each as they pirouette through their dance of Life and Love against the pastoral backdrop of the farms and sheep paddocks of Weatherbury. This is the Nature of Hardy's beloved Wessex.Like a hound on the trail, make sure to follow Hardy's use of the color 'scarlet' and 'red' through the novel. Read and experience Hardy's use of Fate, Chance, Change, and Irony working their primeval magics upon the landscape and human actors in this great play of Life. Far From the Madding Crowd is truly a timeless work from one of the Victorian period's great authors.

  • Becca
    2019-02-22 00:59

    Far From the Madding Crowd is without a doubt the strangest romance novel I have ever read.Before starting the review proper, I do have a slight confession to make. When I saw this novel in the bookshop a month ago, the only reason I recognised the title was because Harry Kennedy – played by my favourite actor, Richard Armitage – quoted a line from the story in The Vicar of Dibley:Harry Kennedy: "As Gabriel Oak said to Bathsheba in Far From the Madding Crowd; ‘Whenever I look up, there shall be you, and whenever you look up, there shall I be.' "Though Far From the Madding Crowd did look like the type of book I would enjoy, I cannot deny that my primary reason for buying the novel was because a character played by Richard Armitage quoted a line from it. Yes, I am that bad. Now I've got that out of the way, when you’ve all stopped laughing at me, I can continue with my review.… No, seriously, you can stop laughing now.So then, why does Far From the Madding Crowd classify as the strangest romance novel I have ever read? For a great many reasons; first of all, one might expect that the above quote would come near the end of the novel, at such a time when the two lovers are confessing their love for one another, no? Wrong. So wrong. In actual fact, much to my surprise, this quote (which is also somewhat switched around) appeared when the story had gone on for a grand total of forty pages, during an impassioned proposal from Gabriel Oak to Bathsheba Everdeen, which is promptly refused; so much for my intention to enjoy reading a beautiful and familiar quote in a romantic setting. Hmph.The author is the second reason this was such a strange story. One would expect that the author of a classic romantic novel would have some sort of understanding of love – and Thomas Hardy certainly has that. What baffled and perplexed me was to read a novel during which the author at times seems to have uncannily accurate and perceptive observations on the subject of love, with lines that make your heart want to soar, but at other times he seems to have very little opinion of love at all. Certain comments which are almost scathing in nature are enough to knock you right back, perhaps not agreeing with such a statement, but it nags at you nonetheless because of the kernel of truth at its centre. Here is one such quote:"The rarest offerings of the purest loves are but a self- indulgence, and no generosity at all." It took me at least half an hour of uneasy and careful contemplation of this line in order to understand my own thoughts on the matter. Indeed, it was quite impossible for me to pick up the novel again until I understood why such a statement bothered me so. My heart immediately cried out against the injustice of the statement, yet at the same time the ring of truth made it imperative that I justify my disagreement to myself. In the end I was glad to have been able to make such a justification. I decided that every action that we ever undertake does indeed have an element of self-indulgence or selfishness; after all, it is we ourselves who choose the actions we take. But this need not diminish the value in any act of love or kindness, and I could never consider it a weakness to wish those we love to be happy.There are two more reasons why Far From the Madding Crowd was such a unique romance, and these reasons go hand in hand; the characters and the subsequent plot. Our heroine Bathsheba Everdene – who is an interesting character in herself – spends most of the novel being courted not by Gabriel Oak, our hero, but by two other men; Sergeant Troy and Mr Boldwood. I will return to those two in a moment, but first I must describe Gabriel Oak – don’t you just love that name? Gabriel is a reasonably young farmer, with unremarkable looks, a wonderful and very adorable way with animals (well, except when he shoots his dog…) and steadfast principles. He is extremely kind, intelligent in his own simplistic way, admirably humble and shatteringly honest. Steady, quiet and dependable, Gabriel remains almost in the background for a decent portion of the novel, but the strength of his presence means that he is never forgotten. One would think it would be hard to respect or like a man who can fall in love within the space of about twenty pages and offer marriage to Miss Everdene when she barely knows him, but Thomas Hardy does a wonderful job of making it believable. Gabriel Oak feels a special connection to Bathsheba, despite being well aware of her faults, and would be content only to be liked in return for the privilege of having a bride he loves.Miss Bathsheba Everdene, however, is quite a different story. Gabriel endures some ill fortune which eventually brings him to be employed by Bathsheba, who recently inherited a large farm from a deceased relative. Observing Miss Everdene moving amongst the community of male farmers with grace, confidence and skill does indeed inspire admiration. Bathsheba is clever, beautiful, hard-working and determined, so one can quite understand Gabriel’s attraction to her. But she is dangerously capricious, and unbelievably conceited. Indeed, her despicable vanity made it difficult for me to like her, at times. There is even a point where she feels piqued and disappointed that Gabriel Oak is no longer showing any love or admiration for her; even though that would mean she would have to continue breaking his heart. I found it hateful that Bathsheba desired the admiration of others so much she did not care nearly enough for what that admiration might cost them.As one might expect, her caprice and vanity quickly lead her into a very tangled situation. On the spur of the moment she decides to send a love note to a neighbouring Farmer, Farmer Boldwood, asking him to marry her. The note is meant to tease, to amuse Bathsheba, as she wishes to see what reaction she will get from the man who is the biggest catch in the district, yet is reputed to have a heart of marble. What the lady did not anticipate was that the note would cause Mr Boldwood to fall utterly and irrevocably in love with her. When Boldwood originally entered the story, he seemed to me to resemble the character of Mr. John Thornton from North and South. Mr. Boldwood is a wealthy gentleman overseeing a farm of considerable size, and seems rather cold and distant. Like Mr. Thornton, his life has been too much involved with work to notice women for a considerable time, though the fact that he was jilted as a young man also contributes to his cold and un-romantic heart. However, as the novel progressed his resemblance to Mr. Thornton becomes less and less pronounced, as he falls in love with the lovely Miss Everdene based on a Valentine’s note that was intended as a silly prank. Furthermore he is determined and insistent to the point of foolishness, and eventually I felt ashamed of myself for ever having compared the man to Mr. Thornton.Though Boldwood had his good qualities, Mr. Thornton would never be so foolish as to fall in love for such a silly reason. Thornton possesses a depth of love that is incomparable to Boldwood’s feelings, and he knows how to express his feelings with much more beauty and sincerity than Boldwood could ever achieve. Thornton’s proposal was a thousand times more romantic, and he knows how to back down with far more grace and honour, knows how to love from a distance when there seems to be no hope. Boldwood’s love, on the other hand, was dangerous, self-centred and all consuming; he pursues Bathsheba relentlessly, until by the end of the novel Bathsheba accepts his proposal. (I’m going to call it his twenty-seventh, but I unfortunately didn’t count) I might also add that Bathsheba is literally weeping when she accepts his proposal – out of a sense of obligation, seeing as she started it all with that stupid note – and she adds the caveat that she will only marry him after seven years has passed, assuming her missing-and-presumed-dead-from-drowning husband has not returned during that time. And in case you were wondering, Boldwood was actually happy with the acceptance of a woman who began to cry upon realising she was beaten down enough by obligation to accept his proposal. I would have done better to compare John Thornton’s love to that of Gabriel Oak; Gabriel is prepared to hide his heart and step aside, compromising his own happiness in the hope that Bathsheba may be happy, and furthermore entering her confidence as an honest and valued friend. "Thoroughly convinced of the impossibility of his own suit, a high resolve constrained him not to injure that of another. This is a lover's most stoical virtue, as the lack of it is a lover's most venial sin."But if you can believe it, Miss Everdene’s first choice of husband was far, far worse than Boldwood. I do not wish to spoil the plot, so I will not speak overly of Sergeant Francis Troy, but to say that he is everything I find despicable in a man. His surface charms, good looks and brilliant compliments appealed to Bathsheba’s vanity. I have previously mentioned that her vanity was her worst fault, and here she pays for that fault dearly. The attraction between them is little more than lust, but unfortunately Bathsheba does not realise this until after she marries him, and discovers what a truly terrible man he is. Again without spoiling the plot, I shall simply say that some of the things Troy does literally made me want to throw the book at a wall, they made me so angry. How could Bathsheba be so intelligent, yet have such terrible taste as to turn down Gabriel Oak and accept the monster that was Sergeant Troy?I cannot say any more without giving away too much of the plot, but rest assured; though Far From the Madding Crowd can sometimes be a little depressing, it ends well and so beautifully that I had tears in my eyes.Aside from his very well drawn plot and characters, Thomas Hardy has a certain way of writing that simply astounded me. The way he constructs his sentences, the words he chooses, his description and insight… all these things combine to make an unbelievably beautiful novel. The story is full of very quotable quotes, and contains observations of nature that simply take ones breath away:”To persons standing alone on a hill during a clear midnight such as this, the roll of the world eastward is almost a palpable movement. The sensation may be caused by the panoramic glide of the stars past earthly objects, which is perceptible in a few minutes of stillness, or by the better outlook upon space that a hill affords, or by the wind, or by the solitude; but whatever be it’s origin the impression of riding along is vivid and abiding. The poetry of motion is a phrase much in use, and to enjoy the epic form of that gratification it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the night, and, having first expanded with a sense of difference from the mass of civilized mankind, who are dream-wrapt and disregardful of all such proceedings at this time, long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars. After such a nocturnal reconnoitre it is hard to get back to earth, and to believe that the consciousness of such majestic speeding is derived from a tiny human frame.”… I’m speechless. And that is but one of many, many examples of such beautiful and insightful writing. Even if a classic romance set in the rural countryside would not appeal to you, it is worth reading Far From the Madding Crowd just to experience this extraordinary writing. I rarely ever go back to read a line again – only if it is extremely funny or seems to require contemplation – but a spellbound sense of wonder often sent me back over Hardy’s words, in order to truly appreciate these brilliant descriptions.Overall then, despite my original reason for picking up the book (thanks Richard Armitage, I’m sure they’ll be laughing at me for a week now, but seeing as I enjoyed the book so much I forgive you) I discovered much, much more than I ever expected to find. I discovered interesting and well-drawn characters, beautiful writing that required much thought, and the story of a romance that was undoubtedly strange, but a story that needed to be told all the same.

  • Piyangie
    2019-03-19 19:44

    This is my first read of Thomas Hardy and what a reward it was. Simply brilliant! I'm absolutely in love with his style of writing: the poetic language and phrasing and his sense in detail to description. What a power of observation Hardy had possessed? Whether it is to human emotions, human psychology, the rural set up of the story, the structures, fixtures, weather or anything, his eye for observance and accuracy in detail throughout the book was simply amazing. With reference to characters, I loved Gabriel Oak the most. His steadfastness, his strength and courage, his honesty and loyalty and above all his unconditional love towards Bathsheba bounded me deep to him. As to Bathsheba, I liked her too. She was strong-willed and independent and her life circumstances have made her guarded. Her pride is not injurious but it is rather a cloak of protection she uses. But young as she is, she is not free of fault; her impetuous nature and a little insensitivity for others feelings can be accounted for in that light. The only fault that I could allude was her failure to understand her own heart! However with all her wild ways and her recklessness at times, her strength and courage to undergo so many heartaches was admirable. I have always loved such courageous female protagonists and Bathsheba is definitely a one. Rest of the characters were appropriately chosen and placed. I liked Mr. Boldwood. His obsession with Bathsheba and his conduct added a little humor to the story. And as customary in any story, there is a villain and he is none other than sergeant Troy. He was so well portrayed by Hardy, for I killed him numerous times before it was actually done by Boldwood.Overall, it was a beautiful story, wonderfully written. I enjoyed it so much and was loath to see it ended. Another brilliant masterpiece I read back to back.

  • Carmo
    2019-03-01 20:58

    Li Tess dos Urbervilles há mais de vinte anos e, apesar de ainda ter bem presente os contornos da história, nada me recordava as características da narrativa de Thomas Hardy.Foi, portanto, uma grata surpresa lerLonge da Multidão e perceber logo nos primeiros parágrafos quão maravilhosa é a escrita do autor.O andamento da história e as personagens bem enquadradas na época, que o arquiteto e poeta da era vitoriana traçou com realismo de pintor, completaram o quadro e estava criado o cenário para um grande livro, que só não li de uma assentada por falta de tempo disponível. Gostei das personagens; das suas complexidades e imperfeições, do seu altruísmo ou calculismo. Não temos os clássicos bons/maus, todos reúnem características que fazem deles seres humanos reais nas suas incoerências, nas suas incertezas, ou ambivalência de caráter e afetos.Gostei das subtis ligações ao simbolismo bíblico e mitológico, assim como das inúmeras referências artísticas. Ficamos sempre mais ricos quando lemos um autor que demonstra ter uma vasta cultura.E gostei muito, muito, das descrições dos cenários rurais, desse Wessex a que deu vida e imortalizou nas suas obras. Foi uma delícia envolver-me no bucolismo campesino, na fúria das tempestades e sentir-me peça do cenário tal o realismo da narração.

  • Perry
    2019-02-21 23:47

    A Snake, a Fruitcake and a Beefcake with HeartacheSgt. Troy, Billy Boldwood and Gabriel OakBathsheba Everdeen has inherited a sheep farm from her late uncle in the idyllic Victorian farming community, the village of Weatherbury, Wessex County, England. The novel was published in 1874 and reportedly was Hardy's first commercial success (his 4th novel). Bathsheba is haughty and creates her own set of madding problems by sending a Valentine to the shy, very strange William Boldwood, after turning down a marriage proposal from the heady shepherd/farmer Gabe Oak. Then as giddy as a schoolgirl, she falls head over heels for the cad Sergeant Troy (a distant relative of Major Tom and Captain Jack). To say more on the story would reveal a spoiler. Hardy deftly focuses on themes of honor, love and betrayal. He took the title from a poem called "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray (1751). "Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strifeTheir sober wishes never learn'd to stray;Along the cool sequester'd vale of lifeThey kept the noiseless tenor of their way."I was quite frustrated by Bathsheba's total infatuation with Sergeant Troy. Have young women always worn blinders to the duplicity of the attractive snakes, going back to the Original Sin? Can nothing be done to save such heartaches, that everyone except the lady can see coming?Probably so and likely not. In any case, I found this a good, but not great, novel.

  • kian
    2019-03-10 01:53

    Bathsheba seeming to think of the storm, Gabriel thinking only of her...

  • Katie Lumsden
    2019-03-20 22:48

    A brilliant novel, with such brilliant characters and story and wonderful writing.

  • El
    2019-03-12 20:00

    Having just finished reading Infinite Jest I was looking for something that had absolutely nothing to do with tennis, drugs, or terrorists in wheelchairs. I thought Hardy would be a safe bet. Instead, what I got was sheep. A lot of sheep. By the end I was almost hoping that the sheep would get up to play tennis, while on drugs, riding around in wheelchairs.There were a lot of sheep in this book.Believe it or not, though, this is not a story about sheep. This 1874 novel is about Bathsheba Everdene and the men who love her - Gabriel Oak (pictured above), Farmer Boldwood, and Sergeant Frank Troy. It's a complicated love story, and the reader finds it hard to really cheer for any one person more than another. Or, maybe more appropriately, they each take turns in the readers' hearts. Bathsheba is quite the little lady, so it's not hard to see why exactly these dudes are falling all over themselves to win her over. The problem with any object of affection is that they are an object - eventually she's not even a real person any longer to these people, and that's where the real tragedy and drama comes into play.This was a relatively fast read for me, probably because of how much time it took me to read Infinite Jest. This was like reading Dean Koontz in comparison. Still, Hardy never manages to disappoint me. Some people are turned off by the pastoral setting. I find it soothing.Except the sheep were somewhat unnerving this time. I like sheep, but at times during reading this I felt a little claustrophobic.

  • Celeste
    2019-03-19 23:45

    Love is messy. And Thomas Hardy had an incredible grasp of that messiness. Far from the Madding Crowd is only the second book I’ve read by him, Tess of the D'Urbervilles being the first, and both were about love’s ability to wreck lives. Hardy’s writing didn’t grip me as hard in this novel as it did throughout Tess, but the writing was still lovely, and the story still compelling, with a (thankfully) happier ending than Tess provided.Bathsheba Everdene is a beautiful, headstrong, independent woman who is loved by three different men: Gabriel Oak, a steady, trustworthy farmer and shepherd; William Boldwood, a reserved, dignified landowner of means; and Francis Troy, a dashing, impulsive military sergeant. Bathsheba wants nothing more than the freedom and independence afforded her by running her own life and finds marriage unappealing. But when she does fall haphazardly in love, all four of our central characters pay a price for it.I’m not a fan of love triangles, and am even less of a fan of love squares or pyramids or whatever you would call the train wreck of relationships in this book. But Hardy has a way of keeping me interested. Did I roll my eyes on occasion? Most definitely. But did the story move me and evoke my sympathy? It did indeed. I will tell you that I rooted for Gabriel throughout the entire book. He was just a genuinely good man who cared more about the happiness and well-being of others than he did his own. Was he rewarded in the end? Who did Bathsheba end up with, if anyone?Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out, won’t you? ;-)

  • Sr3yas
    2019-02-25 20:41

    Love is a possible strength in an actual weakness.This is the tale of Bathsheba Everdene, a proud, independent and disarmingly beautiful woman who inherited her uncle's vast farm. Fearlessly, she enters men's world of farming and becomes mistress of the farm. She attracts different suitors between this transformation: Gabriel Oak, a hardworking and faithful shepherd, William Boldwood, a middle-aged bachelor with dignity and Sergeant Frank Troy, a flirtatious soldier.For me, the story was an experience. Tomas Hardy's excellent writing transports you to Victorian England's beautiful farmlands filled with interesting and unique characters. I was reading as well as listening to an exceptional Librivox recording of the story at same time. This beautiful combination truly formed a trance like experience, creating a tangible connection between the characters and the reader. I listened to last 5 hours of 14 hour-long audiobook without a single break. I felt their pride, temptation, hopelessness, pain, insanity and love.The story's strength lies in its characters and beautiful narration. As most of the readers, my favorite character was Gabriel Oak because of his calm and consistent nature throughout the story. (view spoiler)[Farmer Boldwood was the tragic one, a man of prosperity and dignity undone by his acts. Sergeant troy, while not evil, was the character that could invoke anger in the reader. (hide spoiler)]But Bathsheba was something else entirely. I am still not sure what to think of that character! I despised her vanity, applauded her courage and independent nature, saddened by her pain. But most of the time I was confused by her action and thoughts.Thomas Hardy is a wonderful writer. His subtle humor, physiological understanding of his characters and ability to transform the shade of story from pleasant to tragedy and vice versa is astonishing. Some of my favorite chapters were (view spoiler)[Fanny Robin's final journey to work house, Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba trying to save the farm from rain and reactions of Bathsheba and Troy in presence of Fanny's corpse (that chapter kind of resonated Shakespearean writing for me) (hide spoiler)]When I finished the story, I stepped out, half expecting to find myself in lush mountains enveloped by calm breeze. Well, capital city's harsh traffic did a great job breaking that trance, of course."You were all but mine, and now you are not nearly mine. Everything is changed, and that by you alone, remember. You were nothing to me once, and I was contented; you are now nothing to me again, and how different the second nothing is from the first!"Love is a possible strength. Possible.

  • Aditi
    2019-03-04 23:46

    “Love is a possible strength in an actual weakness.”---- Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy, an English author, spun a spectacular and classic tale of love, Far from the Madding Crowd whose movie adaption is going to release in the month of May, starring Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge and Michael Sheen. Synopsis: The first of Thomas Hardy’s great novels, Far From the Madding Crowd established the author as one of Britain’s foremost writers. It also introduced readers to Wessex, an imaginary county in southwestern England that served as the pastoral setting for many of the author’s later works.It tells the story of beautiful Bathsheba Everdene, a fiercely independent woman who inherits a farm and decides to run it herself. She rejects a marriage proposal from Gabriel Oak, a loyal man who takes a job on her farm after losing his own in an unfortunate accident. He is forced to watch as Bathsheba mischievously flirts with her neighbor, Mr. Boldwood, unleashing a passionate obsession deep within the reserved man. But both suitors are soon eclipsed by the arrival of the dashing soldier, Frank Troy, who falls in love with Bathsheba even though he’s still smitten with another woman. His reckless presence at the farm drives Boldwood mad with jealousy, and sets off a dramatic chain of events that leads to both murder and marriage.A delicately woven tale of unrequited love and regret, Far from the Madding Crowd is also an unforgettable portrait of a rural culture that, by Hardy’s lifetime, had become threatened with extinction at the hands of ruthless industrialization. Oh well, I rarely involve myself into such a classic read! And surprisingly, classics can be devoured at any time and at any age. This is the story of farm woman named, Bathsheba Everdene and her choices of love and life, set across a beautiful countryside and lush green pasture, Wessex. It is not like any other regular love stories, instead it's unusualness is the key that drags us with it's flow. There is a love-square between Bathsheba, Gabriel, Mr. Boldwood and Frank set in the idyllic backdrop of an English countryside in the 19th century. But the story doesn't only revolve around Bathsheba and her lovers, instead, Hardy has captured the delicacy of human nature with intricate detailing and has also portrayed the beauty of nature in a very vivid manner. This book took me more than 5 days to finish reading it, not because of the usage of difficult words, but because of the beauty underlying in each and every words of this author.“The most vigorous expression of a resolution does not always coincide with the greatest vigor of the resolution itself. It is often flung out as a sort of prop to support a decaying conviction which, whilst strong, required no enunciation to prove it so.”Inspiring and thought-provoking lines, will only want you to fall deeper into it's depth. I know most people have read this book quite a long time ago, but as I said it's never too late to read a classic novel, and moreover, it's movie adaption is soon going to hit the screens in the month of May, featuring, Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge and Michael Sheen. Anyways, what arrested me was Hardy has layered his narrative tone with profound humor. “Well, what I mean is that I shouldn't mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband.” The story has a lot of layers of mysteries and the author has thrown in twists and turns here and there to make the puzzle more intriguing, thus it will always keep us on our edges. The author painted each suitors with diverse taste and with their overview, simultaneously giving us an opportunity to look and judge them with our very own perspective. But whatever the author accounted about love and marriage are very real and true, though each and every relationship depicted in the book are flawed and faulty, but their flaws is what made their relationship look more realistic!The characters speak their mind and provided the time period, we can still very much relate to each and every one of them, especially Bathsheba- she is the definition of any 21st century woman, but it's quite astounding to see that Bathsheba belongs to the 19th century timeline. Yet, some felt, Bathsheba as one of the most strongest heroine in the history of literature, I believe Bathsheba was quite depressed and a little insecure with life. Her independence and her talking mannerism are the only things that made her stand out in the crowd. But the way the author portrayed them in their book simply entranced my mind- each and every one of their feelings to movements to reactions are carefully noted down and explained by the author, maybe that's what made them so vulnerable yet so interesting to read about. I believe Far from the Madding Crowd is such a book whose aura can never lose it's charm and something so extraordinary that no one in the world can ever truly re-create Thomas Hardy's flair. Verdict:If you have not read this book, then you're missing out one of the most beautiful novels in the world of literature. And it was worth every penny!

  • Roger Brunyate
    2019-02-20 19:51

    Bathsheba's Three Suitors     "I believe you saved my life, Miss———. I don't know your name. I know your aunt's, but not yours."     "I would just as soon not tell it—rather not. There is no reason either why I should, as you probably will never have much to do with me."     "Still I should like to know."     "You can inquire at my aunt's—she will tell you."     "My name is Gabriel Oak."     "And mine isn't. You seem fond of yours in speaking it so decisively, Gabriel Oak."     "You see, it is the only one I shall ever have, and I must make the most of it."     "I always think mine sounds odd and disagreeable,     "I should think you might soon get a new one."     "Mercy!—how many opinions you keep about you concerning other people, Gabriel Oak."     "Well, Miss—excuse the words—I thought you would like them. But I can't match you, I know, in mapping my mind upon my tongue. I never was very clever in my inside. But I thank you. Come, give me your hand!"So goes the first meeting between Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak. She is young, educated, and impoverished, helping on her aunt's farm. He is six years older than her, intelligent but not well read, working to build up a sheep farm on borrowed capital. Whatever their difference in schooling, they are as close to being equals in practical terms for Gabriel to propose, and though Bathsheba refuses him, it is clear that she also expects him to persist; the feisty independence she shows that first meeting conceals more than a hint of flirtation. Bathsheba is one of the most spirited and desirable heroines in Victorian fiction.Matthias Schoenarts and Carey Mulligan in the 2015 filmBut then everything changes. On the same day, Gabriel loses his farm and Bathsheba inherits another from a dead uncle; they are equals no longer. We are now only 40 pages into a 400-page book; all this is just preamble. For the rest of the novel, Bathsheba is the lady of the grange, running her late uncle's farm with utter competence, and employing around a dozen workers. Among them is Gabriel Oak, who comes upon the farm accidentally at night and puts out a rick fire that threatens the property—one of many breathtaking scenes that pepper the story—and stays on as Bathsheba's shepherd.Michael Sheen as Boldwood in the 2015 filmBathsheba may now be out of Gabriel's reach, but there are two other men who become her suitors. One is William Boldwood, who has the adjoining farm. A reserved man many years her senior, he is indifferent to Bathsheba until she does something foolish and impulsive, which immediately makes him her devoted admirer. Her second suitor is Sergeant Frank Troy, a dashing dragoon whose brash self-confidence knows no obstacles; there is a marvelous scene in which he demonstrates his swordsmanship (at her request) coming close enough to shear off a lock of her hair but not otherwise touching her. He clearly has an animal appeal for the young woman who, the very first time we encounter her, hitches up her skirts to ride astride rather than side-saddle, assuming that no one can see her (though Gabriel does). Incongruously, I found myself thinking of Goldilocks' three bears: Troy who appeals to the impulsive side of her, Boldwood who earns her mature respect, and Gabriel Oak somewhere in the middle. Put this way, the ending might seem predictable (I think it is the only Hardy novel that ends happily), but in fact it is full of surprises. I could hardly put it down in my eagerness to find out what happened next; it is the swiftest moving Victorian novel I know.Tom Sturridge as Sergeant Troy in the 2015 filmThe structure does give the author some problems, though. One is to have Bathsheba retain her independent spirit when she becomes the object of the men's attentions. When she is in thrall to Troy in a physical sense and to Boldwood out of obligation, it becomes increasingly hard for her to remain her old self. This was the only thing about the novel that slightly disappointed me, the fact that the original Bathsheba gradually fades—though never completely. The other problem is similar: how to keep Gabriel continually interesting, as the socially subordinate character and the middle one of the three suitors, unable to match either Troy's dash or Boldwood's intensity. But here Hardy succeeds magnificently. Gabriel's strength as a character only grows and grows, not through passion but because of his sheer competence.And that was the greatest surprise the novel held for me: that Hardy immerses us so completely in the work of an English farm. First, there is the work with the sheep: lambing, washing, shearing, taking to market. There is a wonderful and crucial scene when the flock eat too much clover and risk literally exploding from gas, but Gabriel saves most of them by skillful application of a sharpened metal tube. And the seasonal routine of the farm—again with a climactic scene where a heavy storm looks to ruin the recently gathered ricks until Gabriel once more comes to the rescue. I must admit that I did occasionally speed-read through the drinking scenes where the farmhands gossip in their Wessex dialect, but once they are actually in the fields working, with Gabriel in effortless command, I found it utterly gripping.Terence Stamp and Julie Christie in the 1967 film======And then there are Hardy's magnificent powers of description. As an example, let me quote the end of Chapter 31 and the start of Chapter 32. The fact that they are in rather different styles puzzled me at first, but I think I now know why:     Then she sat down on a heap of stones by the wayside to think. There she remained long. Above the dark margin of the earth appeared foreshores and promontories of coppery cloud, bounding a green and pellucid expanse in the western sky. Amaranthine glosses came over them, and the unresting world wheeled her round to a contrasting prospect eastward, in the shape of indecisive and palpitating stars. She gazed upon their silent throes amid the shades of space, but realized none at all. He troubled spirit was far away with Troy.     The village of Weatherbury was quiet as the graveyard in its midst, and the living were lying well-nigh as still as the dead. The church clock struck eleven. The air was so empty of other sounds that the whirr of the clock-work immediately before the strokes was distinct, ans so was also the click of the same at their close. The notes flew forth with the usual blind obtuseness of inanimate things—flapping and rebounding among walls, undulating against the scattered clouds, spreading through their interstices into unexplored miles of space.Both paragraphs lead into space, but the way they get there is so different. The paragraph that begins the later chapter is so ordinary, so precise in its observation, right down to the whirr of the clock, and the chimes that radiate outwards through the quiet night. The paragraph that ends its predecessor, though, bewitches the reader with an overcharged sense of unreality, created by the longer and less usual words. "Amaranthine," indeed; this prose is literally purple! When I first read it, I did not think it was very good writing. But then I saw that Hardy was taking us into Bathsheba's fevered mind, at the total mercy of what we would now recognize as her hormones. He uses a similarly heightened language a few chapters later to presage the coming of the thunderstorm that threatens to destroy the harvest. But this time, writing only of the external world, it is a perfect balance of disturbing suggestion and mundane detail:     The night had a sinister aspect. A heated breeze from the south slowly fanned the summits of lofty objects, and in the sky dashes of buoyant cloud were sailing in a course at right angles to that of another stratum, neither of them in the direction of the breeze below. The moon, as seen through these films, had a lurid metallic look. The fields were sallow with the impure light, and all were tinged in monochrome, as if beheld through stained glass. The same evening the sheep had trailed homeward head to tail, the behaviour of the rooks had been confused, and the horses had moved with timidity and caution.======I cannot exaggerate how relieved I was enjoy this book so much. Half a century ago in high school, I was made to read Tess of the Durbervilles, and the nihilistic ending ("The President of the Immortals had ended his sport with Tess") seemed a slap in the face, not only to me as reader, but to any sense of justice in the world, let alone the presence of a benevolent God. Even in this earlier novel, I get the sense that Hardy has little time for the Christian God (although the book is full of Biblical references, all helpfully footnoted in the Barnes and Noble edition). Nor is he under any illusion that life is always fair; the disaster that reduces Gabriel to poverty near the beginning comes out of nowhere, but it is necessary for the plot. Only in one instance did I feel anything of the wanton heartlessness that had angered me so with Tess, and that is in the treatment of poor Fanny Robin, the girl to whom Troy was engaged before he met Bathsheba. I would have liked more of Fanny, I think, because it might have shown me other sides to Troy. As it is, she is mainly a source of pathos, but fortunately the only one. The rest of the novel is so full of vigor and passion as to gladden the heart, and its delight in simple everday hard work makes it a paean to the life of the English countryside, which even then Hardy surely sensed was under threat. Magnificent!