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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book
I read this book as a teenager and have remembered the story ever since. I think it is the only book to ever have had the film follow the story line so perfectly.
I have a connection to Dorset as my father's family all lived there but even without that, this is a classic for everyone. It is the story of female power in a man's world, a woman who succeeds. Once...
Published 20 months ago by Mrs. C. E. Cain

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wrong description
When I ordered this I assumed the problem reported by the previous reviewer was a one off. Unfortunately this was not the case. Instead of the special Folio Society hardback edition in German, I received a battered Penguin paperback in English. This was a "fulfilled by Amazon" order so Amazon really need to get in touch with their seller to sort this out.
Published 22 months ago by monkey6


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book, 15 Jan 2013
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I read this book as a teenager and have remembered the story ever since. I think it is the only book to ever have had the film follow the story line so perfectly.
I have a connection to Dorset as my father's family all lived there but even without that, this is a classic for everyone. It is the story of female power in a man's world, a woman who succeeds. Once started it is hard to put down until the end and I found that I wanted part two and more.No-one writes like Thomas Hardy!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rich description and simmering action, 7 Aug 2004
This review is from: Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
Hardy's first major success starts out with a plethora of rich, evocative description of the landscape the shepherd, Gabriel Oak, inhabits, such as "the dry leaves simmered and boiled in the desolate winds, a tongue of air sending them spinning across the grass", the trees "wailing and chaunting to each other in the regular antiphonies of a cathedral choir". Hardy is an excellent (and in my opinion unsurpassed) creator of atmosphere.
Hardy evokes sympathy for Oak in his initial rejection by Bathsheba, giving the reader a sense of his vulnerability, with his initial description also describing how his face "had some relics of the boy", further suggesting vulnerability. However, Oak seems after this rejection to transform into a hero, becoming a character one does not so much relate to as idolize and respect. Hardy writes at the beginning that Oak's "hues and curves of youth" were "tarrying on to manhood", and we get a sense through his patience and humility, his helping Bathsheba with her dying sheep even after she had ousted him in a paroxysm of fury just before, he has achieved manhood, and that the abovementioned qualities are those of ideal masculinity, not the flashy extravagance of Troy or the wealth of Boldwood.
Due to the construction of the plot, however, with Oak at the beginning thus being portrayed as the principal character, the end is rather predictable to the cynical reader. Towards the end, the beautiful description is completely dropped to allow pure action to ensue, with the idea that the pace is quickened thus exciting the reader, yet the ending, though dramatic, feels overly rushed nevertheless.
But all in all, it was a very enjoyable read, with the atmospheric description of the landscape demonstrative of Hardy's poetic ability (which he was later to excercize fully, abandoning the novel form and progressing with verse in his last years) being the strong point of 'Far from the Madding Crowd'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good., 19 Nov 2005
This review is from: Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
I liked this book. I read Tess of the D'Urbervilles and found it quite hard-going and long-winded, but I really enjoyed reading this. It takes a while for the story to get going, but I kept wanting to go back to it to find out what was going to happen next.
I'd recommend this to anyone, even if you haven't liked some of Hardy's other books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful experience, 13 Jan 2013
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brilliant story (albeit with usual Hardy coincidences) with great prose. A lovely way to pass a wet day. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book!, 5 Jun 2012
This is my ultimate favourite book of all time. It was the first Hardy book I read and I absolutely loved his style of writing and his presentation of all the main characters. It is so finely written, and you can picture everything with Hardy's in-depth descriptions. The book was written in the latter half of the 19th century, but is still incredibly accessible. The emotions Hardy deals with and the way the characters interact is fantastic. All in all, the author's writing skills coupled with a very busy yet easy to follow story line make this novel truly brilliant and timeless.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars free e book, 9 Jan 2013
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pleased with the book and the quick time it was downloaded to me.
Good nineteenth century novel by Thomas Hardy in rural setting.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Watcher and the Watched: Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, 1 Sep 2008
By 
J. S. Lewison (Bolton, Lancs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Reading this novel again in 36 degrees of heat in Tunisia was a delightful and slightly unusual experience! As I sat moderately baking in occasional shade, Bathsheba and Oak wrestled out their very pragmatic romance amidst the debris and lives of other characters whose impracticality and passion proves their undoing. The novel recommends survival through work and co-operation and this core value in the narrative far from being dull and tame compared to the heated, reckless drives of others,provides humour and finally healing. The scenes where Oak saves the gas ridden sheep and the stacks communicate Oak's consummate competence and care and Hardy 's sensory skills are marvellously suggestive and psychologically apt:

'He felt a zephyr curling about his cheek and turned.It was Bathsheba's breath - she had followed him, and was looking into the same chink.'

Far From The Madding Crowd is full of 'peeping tom' moments where characters watch each other through hedges,chinks and doors! This moment is beautifully laid out, the metaphor 'zephyr' registers the magic of Bathsheba's physicality...even more, her very breath, her life force enchants Oak. She is as special and magical to Oak as any legend from the Greeks. The simplicity of this shared watching explores their natural equality and the unconscious attraction of Bathsheba for Oak. How beautifully erotic is this scene and yet how it reveals their hesitancy and delay.

Hardy allows Bathsheba her eventual happiness which is rare indeed in the so-called 'great' novels, and he is also astute in granting Bathsheba autonomy in characterisation. She remains true to her perverse, challenging self and we do not see a shadowy, chastened figure at the end, though this Bathsheba has learnt about consequences!

' I have thought so much more of you since I fancied you did not want even to see me again.'

Human nature is perverse! This admission is fully in keeping Bathsheba's vanity and wilfulness. Yet is also reinforces the honesty and intimacy that has existed between them. Such intimacy elevates their relationship and makes their future marriage and happiness certain.

A final glimpse, simply because it is highly Impressionistic and tender and would not be out of keeping in a Katherine Mansfield story or a Monet painting:

'Ten minutes later, a large and smaller umbrella might have been seen moving from the same door, and through the mist along the road to the church.'

The tenderness of the ordinary here is palpable. Oak and Bathsheba are granted some privacy away from the speculative eye of reader and community and under their umbrelllas remains sanctuary and promise!

Wonderful!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly brilliant experience., 4 Dec 2012
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This is the best audio book I have ever listened to. I got completely lost in Hardy's world of 19th century Dorset.
Hardy's story is wonderful in several different respects. He takes you into a long lost rural world with fascinating descriptions of farm life and technology. Sometimes he drifts off into evocative asides. My favourite being when he describes the sensation of watching the Earth move through the stars and space from a pitch black hilltop. The fact that this book is unabridged helps greatly in this respect as these asides are usually chopped from audio books.
It is with his descriptions of people and sympathy with their thoughts and motivations that he is truly a genius. Although these characters are from a different age their various personalities are all readily recognizable to a modern reader and make the story utterly convincing.
Nathaniel Parker reads it well and helps brings the characters further to life.
I was very sorry to reach the end and leave behind Weatherbury, Gabriel,Bathsheba and their world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wrong description, 30 Nov 2012
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When I ordered this I assumed the problem reported by the previous reviewer was a one off. Unfortunately this was not the case. Instead of the special Folio Society hardback edition in German, I received a battered Penguin paperback in English. This was a "fulfilled by Amazon" order so Amazon really need to get in touch with their seller to sort this out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Great Novels of the English Tradition, 11 Feb 2011
By 
J C E Hitchcock (Tunbridge Wells, Kent, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Hardy's title is taken from Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard", and may have been meant ironically. Gray was comparing the quiet life of country dwellers with the frenzied crowds of the city:-

"Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray",

yet Hardy is writing of rural characters whose wishes are often far from sober and to whom strife is by no means unknown.

This was Hardy's fourth novel and his first major success. It was also the first in which he used the name "Wessex", previously only used by historians in connection with the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of that name, as a description of contemporary south-west England. Most of the action takes place in the village of Weatherbury in the county of South Wessex (for which read Puddletown, Dorset- Hardy's novels are generally set in real towns and villages disguised under fictitious names).

The plot centres upon a device which Hardy used in a number of his novels; two or more men in love with the same woman. (This theme also occurs, for example, in "A Pair of Blue Eyes", "Two on a Tower" and "Tess of the D'Urbervilles"). The heroine, Bathsheba Everdene, has inherited a farm from her uncle, which makes her independently wealthy and therefore a very desirable "catch". Bathsheba is a high-spirited young woman, proud of both her financial independence and her good looks, determined to farm her land herself without relying upon a bailiff, even though her inexperience and impulsiveness make this at times a difficult task.

Bathsheba's three suitors are given sharply contrasting characters. Sergeant Francis Troy is a handsome young soldier in the Dragoon Guards. He has plenty of charm, but is shallow, superficial and as impulsive as Bathsheba herself. His surname is taken from a Dorset village named Troy Town, but also has a symbolic significance in that it evokes the Trojan War which was set in motion by the reckless young seducer Paris. Bathsheba's own name recalls another unhappy love story, that of David and Bathsheba in the Old Testament.

Gabriel Oak is Troy's polar opposite. He works as a shepherd on Bathsheba's farm, but was an independent sheep-farmer before he was ruined financially by a tragic accident. His name also has an obvious symbolic meaning; his surname suggests solidity whereas his Christian name implies that he is a "guardian angel" to Bathsheba whom he loves from a distance. (He saves her from ruin on two occasions). He is steady and patient where Troy is dashing and reckless, and faithful in love where the sergeant is fickle.

The third suitor, William Boldwood, is another farmer. He is good-looking, wealthy and respectable, widely regarded as the most eligible man in the district, but Bathsheba rejects his proposal as she is determined to marry only for love, not for any material advantages the marriage might bring her. In some ways Boldwood and Oak are alike; both continue to love Bathsheba after an initial rejection, and they have more in common with each other than either has with Troy. Boldwood, however, can be seen as representing the "dark side" of Oak, as his disappointed love for the young woman turns into an obsessive jealousy verging on insanity. It is this obsession, combined with Troy's faithlessness, which leads to tragedy.

As one might expect in a novel with a rural setting and in which three of the main characters are farmers, agriculture plays a major part in the plot. Besides the main characters, there are also a crowd of rustic labourers with names like Joseph Poorgrass or Laban Tall, often used to provide comic relief or to comment on the main action. As always with Hardy, there are vivid passages describing the Dorset countryside in its many aspects. Yet this is not mere "beautiful writing" for its own sake. The story unfolds to the rhythm of the changing seasons- not just the seasons in the sense of spring, summer autumn and winter, but the seasons as the countryman would understand them- seedtime and harvest, haymaking, lambing and sheep-shearing, the hiring-fair in February and the grand agricultural fair in August.

At times the landscape seems to enter into the story as a character in its own right, as Hardy uses his descriptions of its changing moods for symbolic purposes, to reflect the changing fortunes of his characters. (He does something similar in many of his other novels, such as "Tess"). Two scenes in particular stand out. The first comes in the chapter "The Hollow amid the Ferns", when Troy seduces Bathsheba after a dazzling display of swordsmanship. (Given the strict codes of Victorian literary propriety, Hardy could not actually describe their physical lovemaking, but the swordplay itself is used to suggest it). This scene takes place outdoors, on a fine evening in early summer, and Hardy's descriptions of the burgeoning vegetation are used to symbolise the young couple's growing feelings of love and sexual desire. The second comes only two months later when Oak and Bathsheba are desperately trying to cover the corn-ricks ahead of a threatening storm. This passage contains some magnificent descriptive writing, used to convey not only the approach of the physical storm but also to suggest that there may be metaphorical storms ahead, threatening to destroy the happiness of Bathsheba and Troy who have recently married.

The novel was written in 1874, but it is clear that the events described take place some years before that date, possibly around 1850 or 1860. Whereas in "Tess", written in the 1890s, Hardy was describing a countryside in the throes of rapid social change and economic depression, the countryside of "Far from the Madding Crowd" is a more tranquil, timeless place. Although some of the protagonists meet with tragedy, the story has a more optimistic ending than many of Hardy's other novels. Whereas later novels such as "Tess" or "The Mayor of Casterbridge" can be seen as tragedies, his equivalent of "Macbeth" or "Hamlet", "Far from the Madding Crowd" is closer in spirit to Shakespeare's late comedies. I was particularly reminded of "The Winter's Tale", another story of passion and drama against a rustic setting which ends serenely. This is undoubtedly one of the great novels of the English tradition.
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Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Popular Classics)
Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Popular Classics) by Thomas Hardy (Paperback - 26 July 2007)
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