Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

My Review

"I shall be up before you are awake; I shall be afield before you are up; and I shall have breakfasted before you are afield. In short, I shall astonish you all"

Honestly I kind of hate writing reviews of classics . There are so many people out there writing these really in-depth analyses; I feel like my opinions are really quite simplistic in comparison. I really don't know how to talk about whether a character is well written or not. I don't really know whether I can analyse themes from the story. Far From the Madding Crowd is the first classic I read as a child and I enjoyed it then but I appreciate now that there are plenty of parts I probably would not have understood at that age. I have very recently re-read it and I am just going to write about why I enjoyed it.
So the story is set in parts of Hardy's Wessex. I have a strong affinity to these places being born and bred in the west country. Gabriel Oak is a shepherd who, through some tragic circumstances, loses his own flock and has to go and seek work elsewhere but not before he has proposed to Bathsheba Everdene (great name). She refuses him. Sad,
Bathsheba's uncle dies, leaving her a farm and an income. Through some sheer coincidence, Bathsheba ends up hiring Gabriel as a shepherd on her new farm. You're there thinking ...ok...surely now they'll fall in love and get married bla bla bla.
But no. Bathsheba has got this strong independent woman vibe going on and is quite happy running the farm herself.
There is a bizarre part where she writes a valentines card to another local farmer called Boldwood in which she asks him to marry her as a practical joke (??? yeah I know). However the joke backfires as he becomes scarily obsessed with her. She doesn't really want to marry him but he won't leave her alone. Meanwhile she's having a dalliance with a local soldier called Sergeant Troy. All kinds of drama ensues. All the while, steady Gabriel Oak saves the farm several times and keeps it ticking over. (with little thanks might I add).
I think the book gets a lot of criticism because Bathsheba is supposed to be this strong and independent type but then allows herself to be played and pushed around by these men! But guys come on, if this didn't happen it would just be a story about a cold hearted woman who inherits a farm and runs it successfully alone for the rest of her life. Whoop whoop! We all love scandal and drama. In short, we all love to read about someone's life falling apart and then them pulling it back together.
I like Bathsheba, mainly because I have a dream to run my own farm one day; also because she doesn't allow herself to be completely broken by the events in her life...

...she watched her husband Sergeant Troy gamble away her money. He then faked his own death and then just as she's starting to get her life back on track, he comes back and tries to act normal! Nine months later! Troy is then shot by Boldwood at a party and Boldwood shoots himself.
If that were me, I'd want a break from life. But Bathsheba mans up and realises that Gabriel Oak has been there for her the whole time and that she loves him. Happy Endings all round (except Troy and Boldwood)
There were several points in the book however where I was thinking "come on Gabriel, go and find yourself a nice young milk maid" but I am glad that he stuck it out and got his lady in the end.

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