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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 July 2017
I will not elaborate on the content of this magnificent Thomas Hardy work, as other reviewers have dealt with this subject in great depth in other reviews, but will concentrate on the presentation of the book itself.

The cover is, in my personal opinion, beautifully presented, as is also the case with 'Tess of the d' Urbervilles,' also a Wordsworth Classics edition, which was purchased at the same time. Both are compact editions and were reasonably priced.

These two books represent my personal favourites of Thomas Hardy's works and I have read them many times over the years. They were purchased as gifts for my father-in-law, who at ninety years of age is discovering Thomas Hardy for the first time and enjoying the experience.
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on 19 August 2017
I REALLY loved this book. For reasons unbeknownst to me, this is the first Thomas Hardy novel I ever read, and I am annoyed that it took me so long to get around to sampling him. I live near 'Hardy Country' too! I loved the rural, farming setting, the desriptions of the county through the seasons...I was shocked in places (when Farmer Oak lost his herd, the cemetery in the rain storm, events near the end which cause the downfall of Boldwood)... I found that the characters were all vividly depicted, I could 'see' them in my head as I was reading. Despite being the main female character (and being female myself) I didn't find myself siding with Bathsheba particularly, although I hoped she would see the error of her ways, which she eventually does so there is a "happy ending" of sorts. I will definitely be keeping this book to re-read in the future - I wish I had first read it when I was younger.

With regard to the actual book itself, this edition has a beautiful cover design by Coralie Bickford-Smith.
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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 18 July 2017
This is a great classic love story combined with a description of the coming of age of a young woman in a world not normally entered into at the period in which the story is set. Hardy captures the wide differences between the classes he introduces the reader to and makes them come alive. Probably the most accessible of his books it is well worth reading more than once. I read it at school some sixty years ago and it still offers something new each time I re-read it. A real joy of a book.
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on 19 April 2016
It's about twenty years since I first read this, and on that first reading I thought it was an enjoyable rural love story, but not as powerful as Hardy's later work. Having had to read it a second time for university, I am surprised by how much more I got out of it. Of course, studying a text is different to reading it for pleasure, and I've probably been influenced by the multiple critical perspectives offered in the study material; but this could just as easily have put me off rather than turned me on, so there must be something more to this novel than I originally perceived. Hardy's rural background, unconventional education and dissenting views led to frequent condescension from both contemporaneous and successive critics, their collective opinion being summed up as, "Nice try, son." Yet despite being one of his earliest, this remains one of Hardy's most enduringly popular novels, and its critical reputation has grown. Its apparent simplicity is belied by a multitude of styles and influences, literary and otherwise - Hardy trained as an architect, was interested in the visual arts, mixed literary styles with abandon, and never lost a feel for his agricultural roots - all of which make FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD a more varied, ambiguous account of the complexities of country life than is first apparent. In having a spirited woman and three contrasting suitors as its central characters, it raises interesting questions about sexual and class politics, and some of the franker, darker aspects of life were considered too strong for its original readership, hence its expurgation (happily reversed in this edition). It's not my favourite of Hardy's novels, but it turns out to be much better and more interesting than I thought.
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on 16 July 2012
Whilst Dickens is celebrated for his vivid depictions of urbanisation and the squalor of the city with attendant social vices and alienation, Hardy is undoubtedly the most accomplished literary artist of the countryside. His work evokes the splendour of our 'green and pleasant land' and the psyche of the village folk, which is often superstitious, less cynical and more cohesive than that of the city folk.

A further contrast with Dickens lies in Hardy's liberal use of biblical and classical references which immediately give his writing a more scholarly tone and arguably a little more esoteric to the secular twenty first century reader. Many of the biblical references are used in an ironic context and in juxtaposition to the rural superstitions held and expressed by many of the central characters. This particular edition is furnished with excellent explanatory notes to assist the reader who is less familiar with the classics or the Bible.

Underneath the apparent serenity of bucolic life, Hardy brilliantly creates an undercurrent of unrest and danger represented by the self destructive temptation of clover to the sheep and that of the femme fatale figure of Bathsheba Everdene to the tranquility of the minds of three of the leading male figures in Weatherbury.

Through the competing attentions of Oak, Boldwood and Troy, Hardy brilliantly explores the theme of male pride, ego and rejection. Like Wuthering Heights, this is an equally powerful study of passion and desire and their ability to corrupt, corrode and mould the human condition.
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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 2 February 2016
Hardy, Thomas. Far From the Madding Crowd
Not too many readers gravitate to the long Victorian novel these days, but for those who appreciate a good old-fashioned read Hardy is a gift. The action in Far from the Madding Crowd covers a long period and allows for many changes of character perspective, and this is part of the novel’s charm. Thus Bathsheba Everdene appears first as a flighty young girl and, after showing distain for Gabriel Oak’s proposal becomes an independent woman, showing strength of character, technical knowledge and sensitivity as well as business acumen. She runs a farm and speaks freely with men such as Mr Boldwood and Sergeant Troy, until ultimately she outgrows her youthful indiscretions to appreciate the value of Oak’s what we might call ‘sensible passion’ in contrast to the very opposite kinds offered by the introverted Boldwood and the lustful Troy. But even Troy develops from being a flippant seducer to one who comes to realise that the now dead Fanny Robin is more to him than Bathsheba could ever be.
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on 26 June 2016
Maybe I have left it a little late in life to read such a wonderful classic as Far From The Maddening Crowd, but this book kept me spellbound with it's wonderful turn of phrase and old English classic words some of which are still used today in the part of Devon where I live. Bathsheba for sure was a woman shall we say " in much demand" because of her natural beauty, but she stayed wonderfully aloof to all of this attention most of the time.
There were instances of a slide from this elegant position of a lady who has gained wealth due to family circumstances, and is courted by several unsuitable however she maintains her wisdom in this field UNTIL. Now you read the rest.

I have through Kindle downloaded all of Thomas Hardy's writings !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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on 3 June 2015
A great story of Victorian life and love in rural England. Expect to adjust your experience of modern-day reading to a slower, more descriptive way of writing (with no shortage of words no longer in common currency - but if you're reading on a Kindle it's easy to access dictionary definitions). This is the first time I've read anything by Thomas Hardy. My wife was made to read him at school and hated his stuff, so I was prejudiced. Still, as a mature adult I understand that for a school child, this style of writing would be difficult to absorb, added to the fact that being MADE to read something is not as enjoyable as CHOOSING to read something. I therefore decided to approach this with an open mind and a determination to savour the descriptive prose rather than barge my way through it. I enjoyed it, and was struck by the occasional flashes of humour, the ease with which one identifies with the central characters, and the effectiveness of the descriptive narrative that forms real pictures in the mind, taking one right into the encironment. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
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