There are number of very good reviews of this `classic' novel. I believe the other reviewers have given a good plot overview. So here goes on my thoughts of this unabridged edition, for what they're worth. For my part I was introduced to this novel in my English Literature class and even then I enjoyed the narrative, I found out early on that Hardy had original produced his narrative as part of monthly serial for a publication called the Cornhill Magazine. I think that this monthly serialization shows in the narrative. As the author had to keep his monthly readership enthralled and eager, so they would get the next `episode'.
As the serial progressed the story gained a broader audience. Eventually it gained mainly positive reviews and was ultimately compiled into a novel. What I didn't know, at the time, and only realised until quite recently is that Thomas Hardy revised/tweaked the narrative on number of occasions. So I guess what we read today has changed from the early manuscripts.
For me this is a story that can be seen on many levels - yes it is a romance, a comment woman in society of the time, the stoical nature people have about their lives - but for me it is the rural background of England and agrarian culture that prevailed - before the impact of industrialization that changed the face of the British countryside. For this had a profound effect on the people who worked and the managed the land - this then gives this tale that extra dimension that I find so interesting and enjoyable.
on 19 August 2006
When I was at school I was forced to read several Thomas Hardy novels and was bored to tears by them but now that I'm older and, hopefully, wiser I've embarked on a Hardy revival and am loving every second of it.
The description of people and places and the intricate ways in which the characters interact with each other in 'Far From the Madding Crowd' all fit together to produce a piece of fiction which builds to a dramatic climax that will shock. This novel will leave you frustrated, annoyed, shocked and pleased all at the same time!
Victorian values have a lot to answer for!
on 14 August 2009
Please be aware that this audio is a CONDENSED/ABRIDGED version of the book. My daughter needed it for school and I would have loved to return it, but she removed the shrink wrap before discovering this most crucial fact.
There are notes & quotes and a full and abridged text included in the Bonus CD-ROM.... but I would not have purchased this item if it had been fully described by Amazon!
on 13 July 2003
I thought that Far From the Madding Crowd was a really good book. It was the first novel by Thomas Hardy that I had read and it encouraged me to read some more of his works.
It is my favourite novel at the moment. I liked it so much because of the fantastic way in which characters are created and established. They are given such strong personalities, like Bathsheba Everdene, that it helps you become swept up in the action.
Far From the Madding Crowd is a novel about a country romance. A beautiful and interesting young woman is caught in a love triangle with three very different men. The first is the honourable and steady Gabriel Oak, who loves Bathsheba and is obviously fated to be with her, even though he seems quite her opposite. There is Farmer Bolwood who becomes obsessed with Bathsheba after she sends him a valentine, he is upstanding yet passive and we watch him drive painfully on to his undeserved end. Then there is the debonare Sargent Troy, who wins womans hearts and breaks them without thought.
This is a novel about life in the country, and how maddening it can be. It follows a magnificent set of characters, set in the beautiful place of Wessex, Hardy's imaginative countryside of England.
My favourite thing about this novel is how it centres on a woman. (A rare thing in the 19th century.) And a woman who is given the power to make her own descisions, be in charge of her money, and given sexual power. Bathsheba Everdene is a wonderful creation, up there with the best of 19th century fictions heroines. As complex as Madame Bouvary, innocent like Tess and tragic like Anna Karenia.
I reccomend this novel to anyone who is a fan of Thomas Hardy, enjoys romance novels or wants to gain a fresh view of England in the 19th century.
on 7 August 2004
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'.
This is an enjoyable reading of Thomas Hardy's classic. Nathaniel Parker manages the many characters very effectively and avoids the trap of exaggerating his vocal range when changing from male to female voices. Accents are well managed and not overly theatrical, so the novel retains its credibility. I don't especially enjoy his voice, which is always an issue of personal taste when it comes to audio books, but I don't find it grating. My only complaint regarding the reading is that it seems just a touch quick which might also explain a slight constriction that I sense in the voice: I honestly wondered for a moment if the speed of my player was just a little awry. Perhaps just my very personal feeling.
As usual there is no printed tracking information from AudioGo, so finding one's way if one changes device or has a break is not easy. The company's 'solution' is to place inaudible track markers on the cds: on ipod these come up as, say 'Chapter 4c', but the absence of a printed record makes this solution largely redundant if one is listening on a standard cd device. Is it really too much to ask for a slip of paper saying cd 4, Chapter 16 tracks 8 and 9? Apparently it is!
If this production issue is unlikely to be a problem for you, however, there is no need to look further than this generally very good reading.
on 30 November 2012
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.
on 22 June 2012
This can be read over & over again. Read at school, saw the film but always get a bit more out of the book when reread. A true classic.
on 1 September 2008
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!
Always loved this was the big break through novel for Hardy, and the one that put him firmly on the map. First serialised in The Cornhill Magazine this then went on to be published in book form. As with an earlier novel, ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ this story centres on a woman with three male suitors, with the ever changing seasons as the background. Of course this story is longer and is more involved, but as is so often the case with Hardy we can see the same themes and questions being thought, shown and asked throughout.
Bathsheba Everdene is young but to a certain extent independently minded, but as we follow her here she has three men who are vying for her affections and she has a choice to make. Gabriel Oak is turned down straight away, after he has only known her for a short time, but with the destruction of most of his sheep he ends up working for Bathsheba, who has taken over her uncle’s farm on his sudden death. Due to a dare and a joke really, the neighbouring farmer to her, Boldwood receives a Valentine from Bathsheba and falls under her spell. Then there is Sergeant Troy, who already has an admirer and is loved by another.
As Bathsheba makes her choice there are repercussions as others have to come to terms with it. With finely drawn characters and some wonderful descriptive imagery of the land and the changing seasons, this book really comes alive. Through trials and tribulations we follow this tale to its ultimate conclusion, taking in the everyday aspects of life with its tragedies and comedies, and seeing the flaws that come in human nature. An easy novel to read and one that really gets under the skin it is easy to see why I and many others are such huge Thomas Hardy fans. If you have never read this before you are really in for a treat as Hardy blends Romanticism and Realism to create something that is really memorable.