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on 25 April 2015
Rather like a Shakespeare comedy it begins lightheartedly and ends with a wedding and has a cast of rural buffoons. In between its end pieces though, this novel is tragic in its desperation and scope with a seriousness matched in Hardy's nature description, where the clouds, the fields, the sea and sun, and humankind's place in relation to them is almost transcendent in its detail. The main character proves to be Bethsheba Everdene rather then the shepherd Gabriel Oak as promised at the beginning, and their love and does win in the day, but only after the suffering of ordinary, if slightly foolish and feckless souls, who are overtaken by a kind of madness of passion, and in the end murder and death. Only Gabriel is inoculated against folly by an early tragedy of loss and disappointment. His slow steady stoicism, perhaps like Hardy's, maintains the dignity of the cast. Perhaps the most moving scene is Fanny's last hours as she seeks security in the poorhouse, dragging her poor dying body through the dark and obscure countryside. I believed it to be the truth of Hardy's times, and of or own too in some parts of the world.
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on 25 August 2016
Although there is a element of nostalgia for a bygone age, Hardy felt that his rural world was immutable. It forms a wonderful backdrop for a tale of love, human frailty and betrayal.
The picture of a world, built around an unchanging agricultural calendar with its customs, festivals , high days and holidays, songs and dances is described by an author who was untroubled by any unrealistic, outsider`s view is a backdrop for a story created by a towering literary figure.
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on 30 December 2016
For a classic book that was at times difficult to get through (sometimes the detailed descriptions got the best of me), overall I really enjoyed this book. Hardy breathes life into his characters as well as to the setting. From the beginning I didn't like the character of Bathsheba but yet I couldn't help worrying about her. The love quadrangle was brilliantly set up and until the very end I was not sure how it would end. If you can read this book with a book club like I did, I think that would be the best way to get the most enjoyment out of this story
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on 22 May 2015
I read this book and saw the film years ago and enjoyed it hugely. Last sunday I saw the new film and have now nearly finished reading the book again. I enjoy seeing the differences between the book and the film. I thought the film well casted. Hardy was a melancholy man but his language is great and several quotes are making their way into my quote book! Especially the one "It appears that ordinary men take wives because possession is not possible without marriage, and that ordinary women accept husbands because marriage is not possible without possession; with totally different aims the method is the same on both sides". Since marrying at a mature age I have met more than one man who said the same but not in the same language!! He is a bit flowery sometimes but excellent story told in a good way.
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VINE VOICEon 2 November 2015
I studied this book for English Literature many decades ago and the thing I recall about it is that there is an interesting plot hidden beneath reams and reams of tedious padding. Having watched and greatly enjoyed the recent film version I decided to re-visit the book to see if I had mis-judged it. I hadn't. Once again I found myself skipping the descriptions of the scenery and the dull interactions between the farm workers to find out what happens to Bathsheba and her many suitors. The book is certainly worth reading, because Bathsheba Everdene is one of the best heroines ever to spring forth from the imagination of a 19th-century male author, but it is a bit of a chore.
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on 21 August 2015
I really loved this and didn't expect to. I thought the characters and their various changes of fortune made the story really engaging and the pace was meandering without being indulgent. Having read a couple of crime thrillers, I did have to take a deep breath at facing this more descriptive (even lyrical) way of writing eg. 3 pages to describe the farmhouse at the start but I settled in quite quickly and always found myself disappointed when I had to stop to get off at my stop. I'm also glad I didn't see the movie first - I could create the characters in my own mind - but it will certainly be a film I look out for. In short, it was every bit as wonderful as a classic should be!
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on 8 August 2015
Thomas Hardy is unparalleled in his ability to make such truthful,penetrating and wise observations on the nature of love and its helpless victims. He has a genius for writing both male and female characters with such ruthless veracity. He portrays the full range of male emotional experience in the three distinctly drawn lead characters-soulful Gabriel, seductive Troy and the initially rational Boldwood who later bleeds hopelessly from the wounds of his own frenzied passion. Regarding women, Bathsheba has to be one of the most original and sympathetic female characters ever written, but he achieves this devotion to her from his readers by never shying away from describing her darkest and most troubling aspects. The result is a truly gripping story, full of love, doubts, intrigue, tragedy and hope. The plot moves along at a good pace so you never get bored but it still gives Hardy time to extrapolate his observations of these 4 specific people and make general statements about passion, suffering and disappointment and how they affect all of us, something he is so brilliant at doing. In addition the lesser supporting characters are drawn with great humour and kindness and provide entertainment throughout. A truly wonderful book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a gentle infusion of classic English literature, best read with tea on afternoons of any weather (thunder and lightning go quite well with it). Am off to see the much praised film version of it now, having waited patiently, the Julie Christie version.
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on 26 July 2015
I loved this book and am amazed that I hadn't read it before now. It is charming, delightful and poignant all at the same time!
Gabriel loves Bathsheba, pure and simple and when she turns him down he accepts it, but carries on looking out for her.
She doesn't know what she wants and gets herself into a right pickle by doing the wrong thing, but Gabriel is there! She nearly loses all but Gabriel is there.
Things take a dreadful turn and I won't give away any more of the story! Except to say it is well worth the read, even trying to understand the local dialect of the characters.
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on 25 October 2012
I first read this book for English literature at school. I wasn't taken by any of the other books that I had to read but this one got me into reading literature especially Thomas Hardy. It is definitely one of his better works and I have read it a number of times since as well as the film version. The plot is basically the story of Bathsheba Everdene and her 3 suitors. The first is Gabriel Oak who is a dependable type of character and sticks by Bathsheba despite his own misfortunes. The second suitor is a neighbouring farmer who is a confirmed bachelor but becomes infatuated with Bathsheba. The third suitor is a dashing cavalry officer who has already had an affair with one of Bathsheba's servants. There are various twists and turns to the plot and in some ways it can be viewed as being about the constancy of Gabriel's love as much as it is about the affairs of Bathsheba's heart. The story is set in the country scene of the time and there are plenty of descriptions of country life. It is these descriptions of the different scenes that sets it apart as a great work. The way Hardy describes the countryside is almost poetic at times,and it is primarily this aspect that the film of the book cannot hope to do justice to, but undoubtably has to be read.
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on 10 August 2015
Bathsheba Everdene rejects one man, leads on a second and marries a third with disastrous consequences. So, your classic love rectangle.

With the exception of her first suitor - solid, reliable Gabriel Oak - the main characters are all pretty much unsympathetic. There are some laboured plot devices - the disappearance leading to a presumption of death - too. It's lightened by some humour derived from the Wessex rustics. Some Victorian novels stand the test of time but FftMC doesn't, by modern standards it's all a bit creaky.
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