Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy ~Goodreads~
Published by Oxford World’s Classics 2008 edition (originally published 1874)
Paperback 433 pages ~The Book Depository~
‘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 Oak is only one of three suitors for the hand of the beautiful and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. He must compete with the dashing soldier Sergeant Troy and respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. And while their fates depend upon the choice of Bathsheba makes, she discovers the terrible consequences of an inconstant heart.
I begun this novel with an open mind to Hardy’s work, beforehand I had read Tess of the D’Urbervilles which I found rather upsetting and perhaps not the right novel of Hardy’s to start with so I put it down and left it.
Since discovering that Far From The Madding Crowd was to become a film with some splendid actors, I felt obliged to read the book beforehand. Reluctant as I was that this novel would depress me, I found myself drawn to the sweet, and yet adorable farmer- Gabriel Oak. He really captured my heart within a few pages of this book and he did until the very end, I didn’t warm well to Bathsheba’s other suitors Mr Boldwood and Sergeant Troy.
Within meeting Bathsheba Everdene I immediately felt her to be this strong, independent woman who has inherited her late uncle’s estate and I was excited for herself to convey this strong heroine character to those who worked her land. Sadly this opinion faltered when she is approached by Francis Troy, I grew to dislike her. She becomes charmed by Troy so easily and this made me dismiss her and think her to be ridiculous when there’s the charming Gabriel Oak waiting on her. To begin with I didn’t think she would be this dense.
Funnily enough in my head when I had met these characters I felt like it was an episode of blind date where I put together in my head what each of the suitors had to offer to Bathsheba to make me decide who I thought would be the best companion (definitely not biased towards these descriptions at all)…
Oak was very abrupt with this feelings towards Bathsheba but I found him to be romantic with telling her how he felt. He didn’t feel the need to charm her like Troy and Boldwood had, he was very much in the way that he wanted her to accept him for who he was, despite his lack of wealth to offer her. He is constant with his love, despite not being so much the centre of the novel it wouldn’t be without him in it.
All of the suitors differ, with Troy very much the “bad boy” figure in that he had two women charmed by him at once. Flirtatious, outgoing, spontaneous- who doesn’t like the idea of a man like Troy?
We come to Farmer Boldwood, who again to begin with seemed very courteous and a gracious man. Although at 40 years a bachelor and a lot older than Bathsheba, he held promise with a large amount of land and great wealth to share. Later on however, I found him to be quite unbearable and desperate towards reaching out for Bathsheba to return his feelings it was almost as if I felt sorry for his patheticness. Despite this though, this obsession did stem from Bathsheba’s own doing!
The plot essentially revolves around the tragedy of both Troy and Boldwood and their doings with Bathsheba. With Hardy’s descriptions of the Wessex countryside were wonderfully accepted in setting the scene and mood for this novel, although at times they were described at great length. Even so I loved this novel a great deal and the ending soared me into great spirits I couldn’t give it less than a four star rating. I’m now keen to watch the film adaption as well as to read more from Hardy and perhaps try Tess of the D’Urbervilles once more.