Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

When I was in college one of my good friends, who was an English major, once told me she hated Thomas Hardy. Unfortunately, I let her opinion influence me and I’ve avoided his novels for years. Last summer I read The Return of the Native and loved it. But I was still hesitant when I began Far From the Madding Crowd, published in 1847. Now I can officially say I don’t agree with my friend at all.

I can also say, I never thought I would read a novel with a character named Bathsheba Everdene. Not only that, several men are in love with Bathsheba. When she arrives in Gabriel Oak’s life, it changes both of their lives drastically. Oak, is a young shepherd who has his own sheep farm. After knowing Bathsheba for a short time, he proposes to her. She turns him down. Shortly after this refusal, she moves to Weatherbury. Oak suffers a terrible loss and has to give up his farm. He moves on in search of work.

Along the way, he encounters a fire on a farm and helps put it out. Of course, the farm is owned by Bathsheba. She inherited the farm from her uncle. When Oak met Bathsheba, she was poor, but now she is wealthy and has her own farm. Oak ends up working on her farm.

However, not all goes smoothly for Oak. He still loves her, but now he has two rivals. William Boldwood, a neighbor of Bathsheba falls for her after she sends a valentine that says “Marry me.” She wasn’t actually proposing, but sent the valentine as a joke. Boldwood decides that he must marry her. She admits that she doesn’t love him, but the mad suitor doesn’t want to take no for an answer.

When Boldwood is away, Sergeant Francis “Frank” Troy returns home. At first Bathsheba is repulsed by him, but this quickly turns into lust. Troy is the bad boy and has a reputation. You may see where this plot is heading. I don’t want to give too much away, since I recommend the novel. Many aspects of this story are predictable, such as Bathsheba falling for the rebel in the crowd. Yet, there is more to this story. There were several twists that surprised me and many made me cringe.

I wouldn’t call this novel a romantic novel. Yes, it’s about three men who love the same woman, but I didn’t get many warm fuzzies while reading this novel. There’s a lot of tragedy. Also, if you want to find out about rural country living during Hardy’s time, this would be a great start. Moreover, I really appreciated that the main character is an independent woman.

I have a couple more Hardy books on my shelf and many of his novels are on my 1001 books you must read before you die. Thank goodness I don’t agree with my friend since if I hated his style reading all of them would feel more like a chore. The two novels I’ve read so far have been a delight. I’m not sure which one I’ll read next. Any suggestions?

Below you’ll find some photos I took in Brompton Cemetery. My dog and I go for walks here and then we take a break. I sit and read and he wanders around sniffing everything he can find. Both of us are getting older and we enjoy this time to relax.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.
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21 Responses to Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

  1. Caroline says:

    Halfway into your review I was thinking it sounded like pure romance but in the end it doesn’t seem as if. An intersting plot and your review puts me in the mood to find out what happened in the end.
    I wouldn’t really have pictured a woman called Bathseba as a veyr attractive woman. 🙂
    I still haven’t read my first Hardy. It’s only September…I’might still make it this year.

    • TBM says:

      There were several aspects of this story that surprised me. I kinda saw them coming, but I wasn’t sure how far Hardy would go. This is the type of novel that makes me ponder what is the purpose to all of this, life and love. His writing is beautiful in a haunting way. Many aspects were difficult to read, but it’s like watching an accident. You don’t want to see what happens, but you can’t stop looking either. That’s true, you still have time to squeeze one of his novels in. Good luck. I’m still searching for a small novel for German Literature month. Dickens is killing me with his long novels. 🙂

  2. Caroline says:

    Btw – Miles has such an expressive face. You seem to have worn him out. He looks quite exhausted.

    • TBM says:

      It isn’t hard to figure out how Miles feels. I’m not sure I wore him out though, he does that to himself. Miles is such a happy creature and he loves to run and play. After a nap, he’s ready to do it again. I love his spirit.

  3. Your post encourages me. I recently bought that book, knowing nothing about it but that it was considered a classic. I generally like classics, but some are a bit hard to get through. I kind of skimmed your synopsis since I plan on reading it soon, but now I’ll make it more of a priority.

    • TBM says:

      I do the same thing when I stumble upon reviews, I don’t like to know the whole synopsis since I don’t want to be swayed. Sometimes it’s best to go in blind and to be totally surprised, good or bad. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Dounia says:

    Great review! I’ve never read any of his books, but I was tempted by Far from the Madding Crowd, and your review just convinced me to read it! Once I get around to it, I’ll let you know what I think! Thanks for the review and I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I do hope you enjoy it and that you tell me what you think. There’s some interesting developments that would be fun to discuss. Happy reading!

  5. I so wanted to like this book and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but didn’t enjoy either one. Maybe it was because I was too young (18)? If I had the time, I might try re-reading, but there are so many books I want to read for the first time.

  6. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I loved it when I was a slip of a thing and one day I’ll read it again!

  7. Jo Bryant says:

    it looks as if this is another one I shall have to find. Miles looks so content…ummm…best not mention what I said about the wet pants…

  8. Fergiemoto says:

    Poor Miles looks at bit tuckered. It’s good to be able to relax.
    Thanks for the review!

  9. Blue Bells says:

    I agree what you have penned down about “Far from the madding crowd”.I am reading this novel right now and is quite enjoyable.

  10. I really liked Far From the Madding Crowd. When researching our historical novel, The Keeper of the Crystal Spring (http://www.amazon.com/Keeper-Crystal-Spring-Naomi-Baltuck/dp/0140276114), my sister and I visited Shaftesbury, where the movie based on the book was filmed. There is a scene in the movie on the little lane called Gold Hill, one of the most photographed spots in England. My sister and I had tea at the home of a local historian when researching our book, and she happened to live on Gold Hill. It was so exciting to get a tour of her home and garden!

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