Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community.
I am a huge Thomas Hardy fan, and this book has done nothing to change my mind about him - I loved it.
Hardy is a man for intricate details and thorough character development. I love his attention to detail in setting and characters. He is also very much a symbolist, so great thought has to be applied when reading his novels. Although the stories can still be enjoyed without meticulous symbol analysis, I find it to be more rewarding to do it this way.
This one is a bit of an unconventional love story. The heroine of this story, Bathsheba (name!), starts out as a bit of an irksome cow. She's extremely strong-willed and determined not to let go of her values. She manages to find herself not one, not two, but THREE suitors, and proceeds to tell them all to beat it. Then she slowly (but dramatically) develops throughout the novel in many ways, turning into a much lovelier person. I found myself relating to her greatly, and falling in love with her. All of the characters were so realistic and even charming, that I found it quite difficult to put the book down.
Hardy is also excellent in conducting humour in different ways throughout the plot. I found myself laughing out loud at many different intervals, each one as clever as the last. It's more of an eloquent wit that Hardy has here, rather than an overbearing kind of humour.
Hardy's characters mostly suffer from extremely cruel twists of fate somewhere around the mid-point of the novel, and this one was no different from the others I've read. Although I do enjoy these parts, it's always refreshing to see that the character's misfortunes usually stem from a certain error in decision-making that they have previously made.
Hardy is definitely one of the greats, and a complete master of the English language. I'd recommend this book to anyone, but particularly for people who savour detail.
15 / 66 books. 23% done!