heaven_ali (heaven_ali) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

#2 Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy (1874)

Read for my Hardy reading challenge/reading group a re-read of a novel I first read when I was about 18 (for pleasure not O or A levels )

Far from the Madding Crowd is perhaps the most pastoral of Hardy's Wessex novels. It tells the story of the young farmer Gabriel Oak and his love for and pursuit of the elusive Bathsheba Everdene, whose wayward nature leads her to both tragedy and true love. It tells of the dashing Sergeant Troy whose rakish philosophy of life was '...the past was yesterday; never, the day after'. And lastly, of the introverted and reclusive gentleman farmer, Mr Boldwood, whose love fills him with '...a fearful sense of exposure', when he first sets eyes on Bathsheba. The background of this tale is the Wessex countryside in all its moods.

This is a beautiful pastoral Hardy novel, the first to use the fictional term of Wessex for Hardy's Dorsetshire countryside. I found it an absolute joy to read, and can't imagine why anyone wouldn't. Certainly this novel has more reason to make to reader cheer at certain points than some other famous Hardy works. Far from the Madding crowd seems to be a more ambitious work for Hardy, than his first 3 published novels. It is also deeply romantic, brooding and enormously readable. The story of Bathsheba Everdene a willful, independent farmer, who is object of heroic Gabriel Oak's love, Farmer Boldwood's obsession, and Sergeant Troy's dashing flirtations. The twists and turns in the fortunes of these four people is what makes this such a page turner still. In the midst of this wonderful story we have many of Hardy's themes of rural life, marriage and social convention. Hardy's descriptions of countryside, agricultural and rural life are wonderfully atmospheric. As are the minor eccentric rural characters who befriend Oak and work for Bathsheba.
Needless to say I loved every bit of it, Hardy's writing is breathtakingly good.

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