Published by Penguin Books Limited on 2003
Genres: Classics, Fiction, Literary
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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 sexual relationships.
The afterword of my 1960 copy of Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy begins with this, “To read the word of any famous author is in itself something of an art. A reader must develop the poise of courage in order to stay the judgement of his elders until he can read the work for himself.” I have many friends who had to read this book for their 10th grade honors English class. They hate this book. As a 21 year old, I struggled with parts of this book, so I can only imagine being 15 and required to read it.
The book follows the central character of Bathsheba Everdene. Bathsheba is a dark haired-dark eyed beauty who looks nothing like Julie Christie and who tempts several men around her. She has three main suitors. The first we meet being Gabriel Oak, who remains loyal to her throughout the book even though he is a poor shepherd. We see Bathsheba grow and mature throughout the book. I know I questioned the experience of women during this time-period in England, and how constraining it must have been to be at the whim of men. Hardy has a way of describing the scenery so you feel as though it would appear right out your own window.
This book was not exactly a fast read, but it was certainly something to be savored and it comes highly recommended to anyone who wants to escape to Casterbridge, England with a nice cup of tea.