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Book 147: "Far From Madding Crowd" by Thomas Hardy

Title: Far from the Madding Crowd
Author: Thomas Hardy
Genre: Victorian Classic- Pastoral
Read in: Trade Paperback (Movie Edition)
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

My feelings are varied on this novel. There were moments I was enthralled. There were moments when I was bored. And there were moments I was angry. I generally enjoy Hardy's work because it differs from most Victorian classics as his books are generally set in the country, with every-day working characters, instead of the elite high society of England.

Most of my mixed feelings arise from the characters. I loved Gabriel Oak. He is steady, complex, and overall a good person. The main female of the novel, Bathesheba Everdene, I can't stand. She made me so angry. I tried, very hard, repeatedly, to like her; I never managed to succeed. My biggest problem with her is that she could have been the perfect embodiment of the reality of female strength in an era that greatly needed more of that in literature. She is independent, strong, and intelligent in her affairs in every aspect of her life except love and friendship. When it comes to love and friendship, she is ridiculous, manipulative, cruel, careless, unreliable and, as Jane Austen would say, silly. She trifles with the hearts of three men, two good and one scoundrel. Whenever they express pain or surprise at her trifling with them- she blames them. She often yells, randomly, and for inexcusable reasons at her staff, especially the only 'friend' she has, Liddy. When anything bad befalls Ms. Everdene, really the only thing the reader can do is rejoice; she deserves every moment of it.

The side characters are entertaining and the perfect addition to the novel, though most are very flat. The story is rather predictable, but enjoyable.

Overall, I'm still not sure how I feel. I guess I can only come to the conclusion that this book was, okay. Not great, not good. It will not be added to my favorites. If anyone else has read it, I'd love to know your thoughts.


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