Friday, January 11, 2008

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Title: Far from the Madding Crowd
Thomas Hardy
No. of pages:
Other info:
Free audio book

Synopsis (from Amazon):
'I shall do one thing in this life - one thing for certain - that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die.' Gabriel Oak is only one of three suitors for the hand of the beautiful and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. He must compete with the dashing young soldier Sergeant Troy and respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. And while their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she discovers the terrible consequences of an inconstant heart. Far from the Madding Crowd was the first of Hardy's novels to give the name of Wessex to the landscape of south-west England, and the first to gain him widespread popularity as a novelist. Set against the backdrop of the unchanging natural cycle of the year, the story both upholds and questions rural values with a startlingly modern sensibility.

Although I enjoyed this pleasant ramble through the countryside, I couldn't help feeling it dragged very slowly for much of the time, and I found that it was almost entirely predictable. I didn't find any of the characters particularly memorable; even the rakish Sergeant Troy and the wilful Bathsheba Everdene seemed very weak in places and it was only the steady Gabriel Oak that seemed to have any real weight to him.

The language, however, was beautiful and there's no denying that Hardy's writing flows easily, making this a pleasing way to while away the hours, even if it's not earth-shatteringly exciting or suspenseful. There's enough to keep the reader engaged and it's worth finishing, even if only to see if things turned out exactly as you thought they would when you started reading.


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