Far From the Madding Crowd by Tom Hardy

far from the madding crowd
Available on
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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 swift passion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships.


*Spoiler alert - Some plot spoilers ahead*

Far From the Madding Crowd was a book club read for me. It had been on my to-read list for a while so I was excited to start reading. Only...it wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be. I have a friend who loves the book, loves everything about it, but I just...didn't. Really the big problem for me was I really disliked the main character so she kind of ruined the whole thing for me. 

This is the story of Bathsheba and the men who fancy her. The book opens with Oak, when he meets her, and his proposal of marriage. She of course turns him down, but in such a way that I did almost enjoy it. There were moments, like her refusal of his proposal, that made me think oh, this will be fun. But they were few and far between. Anyways, she turns him down and goes to run a large farm that was kind of left to her. It is there that she meets Boldwood and Troy and where most of the story takes place. 

So Oak is the guy who is always there. He was the only character I actually liked at all. The only one who didn't get crazy jealous. He wanted Bathsheba to be happy, whether that was with him or not. He also had no problem standing up to her when she would try and be mean to him and talk down to him. 

Then we have Boldwood (who I always read as Bollywood for some reason so he was this kind of crazy guy for me, which turned out to be quite accurate). He doesn't really have any interest in Bathsheba until, on a lark, she sends him a valentine. Then it is all over for him as he must have her! Ridiculous. 

Then finally we have Sergeant Troy. The guy who rolls into town and immediately starts telling Bathsheba how beautiful she is and all that. He was the real charmer and obviously not at all sincere. He also has a lady who he really loves on the side (though she is not in a good way when we do see her again). 

So Bathsheba. She was so incredibly vain and self centered I couldn't stand her. It was always me me me and she didn't really seem to care for others very much. She would be horrible to Oak for no good reason and he would just leave. He always came back when she asked, but still. Then she falls for Troy because he fawns all over her and tells her how pretty she is and stuff. There was one line before she meets him when Boldwood is leaving town for a bit that was like if only he (Boldwood) had told her she was beautiful. Like if he had maybe she would have agreed to marry him and everything else wouldn't have happened. I did not care for her. Way too self centered for my tastes. 

So of course everything falls apart eventually, how could it not when you decide to marry the dishonest Troy? Then Boldwood goes really crazy - that was a strange scene and seemed to come a bit out of left field, and so she is left with Oak. No one else is around to marry her so it end a bit anticlimactically and to me not too happily. With her finally saying well, I guess you will do since I have no other options. Sad for Oak as he seemed like a good guy. 

Now one thing I will say that I did like about the story is the author seemed to be way ahead of his time. A woman who runs her own farm? Who doesn't need a guy to do so? At the time this was written it seems like it wouldn't have been looked upon kindly. Like Hardy is progressive in his writing. And not very subtle with his words. The title indicating they are out in the country where no drama would be, only to have a ton of drama. Oak being named Oak and being the strong silent one. All of it. I quite enjoyed the writing, I just wish I would have liked the main character more. I will have to give another of his works a try and see if I enjoy it more. 

Rating: ★ ★


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