Far From the Madding Crowd

This is one of those rare books where the last line sums-up my feelings about the rest of the story.

But since ’tis as ’tis, why, it might have been worse, and I feel my thanks accordingly.

In my own words, “Well, the book ended the way it did, and it might have been worse, so I’m glad it’s over.” Though those were my thoughts, this Classics Club selection actually wasn’t a “bad” book. As a fan of British literature, I enjoyed it — the writing style and way Hardy uses description and dialogue is intriguing, as are his depictions of three very different courtships. As someone who reads for pleasure, though, I don’t really like it — none of the characters really captured my sympathy and the plot didn’t hold my attention except in a few parts.

The story follows Bathsheba Everdene, who first catches the eye of farmer Gabriel Oak as a young woman living with her aunt. He proposes marriage, and she turns him down. They meet again with their fortunes reversed — she has inherited a prosperous farm and he is seeking work as a shepherd. As the novel progresses, she is courted by the next-door farmer, confirmed bachelor William Boldwood, and also handsome womanizer Sergeant Frank Troy. The remainder of the novel can basically be summed up as fairly average people making bad decisions and having to live (or in some cases, die) with the consequences. It does have a happy, if somewhat predictable, ending.

If you’re looking for an alternative to seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron this weekend (and you can find a theater playing it), there’s a new film version of Far From The Madding Crowd released May 1st. It stars Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak, Michael Sheen as William Boldwood, and Tom Sturridge as Frank Troy. My Avengers weekend has been planned for 6 months, but this looks like a good adaptation — I’ll probably see it when it comes out on DVD.


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