Annalisa's Reviews > Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
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's review
May 11, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: classics, book-club, literary
Read from May 12 to June 02, 2009

This book was torturous to read. In a week I could not get past page 25. Every time I picked up the book, I fell asleep or found an excuse not to read. It was at times beautiful written, but it just wasn't grabbing my attention. The only way I finally finished it was to skim over lengthy paragraphs that I knew were bound to put me to sleep in search of the meat of the story.

I did enjoy the descriptions of the lovesick characters. I know people picked spouses quickly back in the day with little personal knowledge, but I still found Gabriel's obsession with Bathsheba unwarranted. Here is a gentle, thoughtful, patient man who is blinded by a narcissistic girl whose only redeeming quality is her beauty. No girl is that beautiful to put up with years of mistreatment without dampening your level of servitude. Maybe her independence is redeeming, but I not enough to make me like her in the slightest. I wanted to care about her fate even a little but I was rooting against her.

The only time she ever showed interest in her pursuers was when they failed to fall at her feet. For all she went through, she never learned or grew. In the end she still remained convinced that guys need to woe her without her encouragement and obsessed with those who don't. I can't help but feel that what is supposed to be a happy ending, one that she did not deserve, is just the beginning of misery. Once Bathsheba has her conquest, she will grow weary of it and look for the attention she is used to getting.

I think she got everything she asked for with sgt Troy and think they were perfect for each other. They could have lived happily every after making misery and drama for each other. For as much as I disliked Bathsheba though, Troy can't blame her for his wishy-washy behavior. He wanted a challenge just as much as she did instead of the sure thing waiting for him. He was a jerk and some of my favorite parts of the story are their cruelty to each other. I didn't feel bad for either of them, only for the people whom they left in their wake. He never should have taunted the loser.

For as cruel as Troy was, Boldwood was insane and was glad Bathsheba narrowly escaped him. Being lovesick is one thing, but intensity of that level is innate. I felt horrible for him the way Bathsheba toyed with him at first, but by then end when he physically holds her down and forces her to commit to him while she's bawling and trying to leave was too much. Nobody deserved to marry someone they don't like as retribution. And when they cleaned out his closets I was a little creeped out.

And onto the only character in the book I actually liked: Gabriel. When he found the dog having run his sheep off the cliff, I was heart-broken for him. And to watch the way Bathsheba continually used and degraded him, I was sad for him. How humble to go from the prospect of wealth to his acceptance of poverty and hard work for other people's benefit. I enjoyed the parallel to him as the good shepherd and found myself wishing a caring, loving girl would steal his heart away from the drama queen. I wish I had been more involved in the story to appreciate all the references in the book to the Bible, Shakespeare, events of the day, but by the end I just wanted to be done.

While it was a frustrating read, it did evoke a lot of passion in me. When I was done, I wanted to throw the book at the wall I was that dissatisfied with the conclusion. I guess I'd rather have an unhappy ending then an undeserved happy one. But it made me think and feel and become quite involved in the character's outcome and for that I liked it.
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Reading Progress

05/28/2009 "I've never had this much trouble getting into a book"
06/01/2009 page 300
78.13% "I may actually finish by tomorrow. Phew!"
02/02/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Lynn (new)

Lynn I have had this book in my bookcase for years. Think I started it, but have no memory of why I didn't finish it. Think your review answered it! Definitely isn't making me want to go find it any day soon.

message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy Have you ever read Hardy before? I have this same trouble every time--very difficult to get into, but for me, something always grabs my attention and then I get sucked in. They do take a while to read. I haven't read Far From the Madding Crowd yet, but I have read The Mayor of Casterbridge, Jude the Obscure, The Return of the Native and Tess of the d'Urbervilles. For me the easiest one to get through was The Mayor of Casterbridge. . .if you feel like giving Hardy another whirl!

Annalisa Thanks for the advice. I actually want to read Tess. I think as time passes, I will remember this book with fondness, but the moment I finished the book I didn't :).

message 4: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy Just a heads up Tess is VERY, VERY depressing! ;)

Annalisa So I've heard. I like depressing books.

Elizabeth Good review.

I feel the same about the ending. It's been a while since I read Far from the Madding Crowd, but I do remember disliking the final pairing of Bathsheba and Gabriel at the end of the book. Yeah, she reaped what she sowed toying with Boldwood and marrying Troy, but I didn't feel like she really earned Gabriel's love - and as you pointed out earlier, there was no real reason for his loving her. To me, Gabriel seemed like a down-to-earth kind of man, simple and rustic; not at all like the type to fall that easily for a pretty face.

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