Andrew Ives's Reviews > Far From the Madding Crowd

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
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Aug 03, 11

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Whilst at first glance this may seem to be a simple tale of a few 19thC characters, their farm activities and their sheep, there is a depth in the telling found all too rarely in novels. Hardy may occasionally fall into Dumas' trap of seeming to be paid by the word, but this wordiness is usually welcome, often elevating descriptions of everyday rural scenes to near poetry. The plot, whilst simple and mostly predictable, is refreshingly free of the incredible contrivances of many other classic works, and the comprehensive insights into the characters' mindsets and motivations will surely resonate, at least in part, with every reader. If there is a criticism to be made, it is that Hardy sometimes gets 'too clever' for his own good - references to lesser-known biblical characters, ancient tales, legends, songs, long-lost farming practices and the peculiar 'jargon' associated with them - all go some way towards alienating the modern reader when these come in quick succession in certain passages. The general tone of the story was mildly depressing too, much like an English version of Anna Karenina - simpler perhaps, but just as effective - and this may not be to everyone's tastes, but the often sombre mood is tempered with some more upbeat moments. The version I read was a 1999 Reader's Digest hardback, which was faultless in its editing, and a joy to read. Recommended.
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