Book Review: Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This classic tells the story of Bathsheba Everdene, a young farm owner, and the three men who are in love with her. She has to make some difficult choices, some of which bring tragedy to her life, but ultimately she finds true love.

As with most classics, there is a lot of setup in the first chapters, but once the story gets going, it really moves along! Towards the middle and end, I was gasping and crying and laughing my head off. It’s definitely a wild story at times, and so brilliantly written.

Hardy has a reputation for writing depressing stuff, and there were some terrible depressing scenes that had me crying and horrified. But the ending is happy, so I was buoyed up again.

The language is clear and easy to understand, although certainly in a formal style like you would expect from a classic book. Hardy’s writing has this subtlety to it that sneaks in around your mind and heart with little details, and then the plot clamps down and his writing is so forceful that it takes your breath away. He leads up to any bits of action with drawn-out dialogue and description and explanations of everybody’s feeling and mindset, until the suspense has reached its peak. Then the action flies out at you like startled birds! Such brilliant writing!

I loved Bathsheba’s character. She is “wayward” and independent and warm-hearted. She makes the most terrible mistakes and spends the whole book regretting them, but they are innocent mistakes. She has a silly streak in her that is all covered over with seriousness and the wish to be respected and admired. Truly, she only wants to be free, but everyone constructs cages around her.

Gabriel Oak is absolute perfection! He’s kind and selfless. He has fortitude and strength of the internal kind. At first, I didn’t know what to make of him, because he’s awkward in social situations, and his dialogue is very straightforward. But through the story we begin to see his beautiful heart. I think what I love most about him is how capable he is. When there’s a crisis, Gabriel knows what to do. When there’s a problem, Gabriel has the answer. When everyone else shirks their work, Gabriel steps in to get the job done and he does it right. He is a fortress!

Farmer Boldwood is quite the interesting character. He runs hot or cold with no in-between. He seems to be stoic, and then flies into a passionate dialogue. I was mesmerized by his scenes! His voice is so original. His situation was made unique by virtue of his unique mind, his uncommon heart. He surprised me at every turn.

And then there’s Sergeant Frank Troy, the rascal with a good(?) heart. He loves to gamble and loves to travel, and hates being pinned down to any sort of commitment. But oh, when he turns on that charm! Any female within 10 miles would melt into his arms. I never could make up my mind about him, even at the end. I loved him, pitied him, hated him, despised him, cursed him, and then pitied him again. He is a dazzling character!

I love the friendship between Bathsheba and Liddy! Two women who were most unlikely to be friends, but end up so close, and stick by one another through everything. Liddy is beautifully loyal and true. She’s a kind soul.

I will definitely be reading more of Hardy!
View all my reviews

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