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Beth Meacham, David Brin

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy, Shannon Russell, Rosemarie Morgan "The heart wants what the heart wants"

No, that is not from this book. I just thought it would have been a good tagline for the 2015 movie adaptation of this classic (they went with "Based on the classic love story by Thomas Hardy" instead).

"Serve you right you silly cow"

That is also not from the book, but it's a sentence that popped into my mind while reading some later parts of the book.

"Fuck off Boldwood!"

Still not from the book but I wish it was.

"It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs."

Now that is from the book, which is brimming with quotable lines. Not being a woman I don't know how true it is but I find this one very interesting. Thomas Hardy was not a woman either (unlike [a:George Eliot|173|George Eliot|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1396882294p2/173.jpg]) but I am sure he had much better insight than I do.
(For some clarification of this quote please refer to the comments section after the review).

This is the latest of my ongoing project to "read" classic books in audiobook format. I find that printed books require more patience and commitment.

Far from the Madding Crowd is basically the story of Bathsheba Everdene and how her three suitors affect her life. This is my second Thomas Hardy book, [b:Jude the Obscure|50798|Jude the Obscure|Thomas Hardy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389403264s/50798.jpg|41342119] was the first, I found [b:Jude the Obscure|50798|Jude the Obscure|Thomas Hardy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389403264s/50798.jpg|41342119] very depressing though quite a gripping read. I am glad to report this book is somewhat more upbeat, somewhat being the operative word. What a gloom merchant Hardy seems to be, was he a buzz killer at parties? I can not fault his talent as a writer though, his prose is consistently beautiful and elegant, his characters are well developed and vivid. His plot twists and turns are often unpredictable.

Looking at the protagonist Bathsheba Everdene, considering her wit and intelligence how she ends up choosing to marry the worst of the three suitors is hard to imagine. Obviously in the context of the book she is dazzled by Troy's oily charms, but I find it a little out of character and feel like she chooses him to drive the plot forward. If she had chosen the best man out of the three we would have ended up with a short story of nonevent.

Of the other two, that Boldwood seems to have a very appropriate name. His "wood" makes him bold (sorry). His bullying Bathsheba into submission is hard to take, apparently he his a man driven by passion (or his little fireman). Gabriel Oak is the perfect gentleman throughout, I am not surprised Bathsheba does not choose him to begin with, he seems like a safe and dull choice.

If the overall plot of the book seems like a soap opera I may have misrepresented it, There is a lot of psychological insight here about human nature and how we often make the wrong choices based on superficiality. As mentioned earlier this novel is not as grim as [b:Jude the Obscure|50798|Jude the Obscure|Thomas Hardy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389403264s/50798.jpg|41342119], the first half of the book is in generally good spirit, the story becomes very dark towards the end of the book but ended on a moderately cheerful note. I find the ending a little predictable but very satisfying, I imagine most reader would want the book to end just like this and perhaps Hardy did not want to alienate hips readers too much and indulge in a gloomy ending as seems to be his wont.

An enjoyable book to read when you are in the mood for a classic or some pastoral mayhem.

I have not read Hardy's [b:Tess of the d'Urbervilles|32261|Tess of the D'Urbervilles|Thomas Hardy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358921541s/32261.jpg|3331021] yet but it sounds really depressing. Can't wait!

EDIT: I have read Tess of the d'Urbervilles since writing this review in April 2013. It is indeed marvelously depressing, here's my mind bogglingly dull review.