Sunday, April 19, 2015

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy - Book Review

With the movie adaptation coming out this May, I thought I would do a review of Far from the Madding Crowd for those of you who might be interested in discovering the book. And in case you were wandering, yes, the book is awesome! 

The Plot
Carey Mulligan and Tom Sturridge as Bathsheba
and Sergeant Troy in the 2015 movie adaptation
After inheriting her late uncle's farm, Bathsheba Everdene comes to Weatherbury to take up her new role as mistress of the farm. Her great beauty and independent personality soon catches the attention of three different suitors: the loyal shepherd Gabriel Oak, the gentleman farmer Boldwood and the dashing and seductive Sergeant Troy. Subject to the love of these three men, Bathsheba is drawn to make a decision that ends up hurting more people she had accounted for. What initially started as a mere game of seduction then takes a dramatic turn, casting the shadow of tragedy over the fates of these four people. 

My Review

The Characters
Terence Stamp and Julie Christie as Sergeant Troy
and  Bathsheba in the 1967 movie adaptation
This is a highly character-driven book and has beautifully written character developments. Bathsheba is a very interesting female character, being very independent and highly spirited for a 19th century woman. She is mistress of her own farm, handling a job normally held by men. Her strength of character is however deeply challenged when she finds herself drawn in the midst of a love rectangle and as the story progresses, we get to see the vulnerability of this seemingly strong woman, highlighting Thomas Hardy's skill at depicting highly realistic characters. Gabriel Oak, the most loyal of her suitors might seem as a slightly naive character at the beginning of the book but as story unfolds, he undergoes a very interesting character development which makes him the most interesting male character in the entire book. Devilishly seductive Sergeant Troy might seem like your typical rogue lover at a first glance but his character, too, hides depths that are gradually explored as the book nears its end. Farmer Boldwood, who becomes so enamored with Bathsheba that soon his very existence depends on her, is a sympathetic character in his own way, though as a person he is quite difficult to like. Aside from these main players, the book also features several well-depicted side characters who, in one way or another, end up impacting strongly on the story.

Penguin English Library Edition
The Story
With its several intelligently interwoven storylines, this story has many layers to it which the reader will slowly explore over the course of the book. What may seem as a mere love story soon takes a dramatic spin bordering on tragedy. With events quickly unfolding one after the other, you won't be able to turn the pages quickly enough. 

The Prose
This is a 19th century classic but the English is still quite accessible to modern readers due to the simple but beautiful writing style. Thomas Hardy has a very beautiful narrative voice and throughout the book I'd sometimes find myself looking up from the page to ponder for a few seconds over a beautiful line I had just read. 

The Ending 
This is one love story which does not quite come with a fairy-tale ending. The ending was very satisfying though and very much in line with the scope of the story. And although not everyone gets to have their happy ending, all the characters' arcs conclude quite smoothly. 

The Rating
I gave this book a very well deserved 5-star rating on Goodreads.

As I mentioned earlier, the movie adaptation is coming out this May. Anyone else is anticipating its release? For those of you who have read the book, what do you think of the choice of actors? Personally, I consider Carey Mulligan to be an awesome actress but I'm not sure if I like her as Bathsheba. I'll leave my judgment for after I watch the movie though.

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  1. Oooh, sounds very interesting:D!

  2. You just know that during the production of this film, there had to be an attempt to get Jennifer Lawrence to play Bathsheba solely because of “Everdeen”. (I’m assuming Katniss has that last name as an homage to this book.)

    1. Everdeen is such a rare name that I'm guessing you're right here. I can't really picture Jennifer Lawrence as Bathsheba but then again, I can't picture anyone as her save for Julie Christie XD