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99 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A towering achievement of English literature
This has to be my favorite of all Thomas Hardy's many classic works. "Far from the Madding Crowd" was published in 1874 when the novelist was 34 years old. It is one of the earliest works of English literature I can think of which has a fully rounded, fully independent, fully human female protagonist. Bathsheba Everdene runs a farm, is only semi-aware of her...
Published on May 24, 2002 by Catherine S. Vodrey

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book poor kindle edition
This was my first kindle purchase.
I have loved this book for many years and know it well, so was dismayed to almost immediately find several lines missing and sentences running into each other, making no sense at all of some passages .
What's the point of having a favourite classic on kindle when I'm checking it against my trusted print copy and finding all...
Published on April 26, 2010 by Keith Robson


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99 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A towering achievement of English literature, May 24, 2002
By 
Catherine S. Vodrey (East Liverpool, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This has to be my favorite of all Thomas Hardy's many classic works. "Far from the Madding Crowd" was published in 1874 when the novelist was 34 years old. It is one of the earliest works of English literature I can think of which has a fully rounded, fully independent, fully human female protagonist. Bathsheba Everdene runs a farm, is only semi-aware of her own extraordinary beauty, and is pursued by three very different men throughout the course of the book.
"Far from the Madding Crowd" may, in some sense, be the model for every cheapo drugstore romance novel ever written, but it is a classic for the very simple and very good reason that it transcends the genre it may have helped to start. Bathsheba's trials, in love and elsewhere, are completely realized, with terrific detail. Hardy has a powerful understanding of human nature and makes each of the characters both deep and broad, both simple and complex, both good and filled with fault. The result is a story with many characters, each of whom is as full-blooded and human as a reader could hope. It's a book which bears reading again and again, as each new reading shows the reader new detail and new depth not previously seen. A more three-dimensional character study may not exist in novel form--and the beauty of it is that all this terrific character examination is done against the backdrop of a wonderful plot as well. You really couldn't ask for a more richly satisfying novel.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far From the Madding Crowd - An Honestly Good Story, December 2, 1999
By 
Jimmy Mullins (Lee County, KY USA) - See all my reviews
Far From the Madding Crowd is a wonderful story about an honest and good man. This man is Gabriel Oak, a small time shepherd trying to gain his independance as a farmer. In his quest for independance he meets Bathsheba Everdene, a very pretty young woman, and falls instantly in love. On a whim he goes and askes Miss Everdene for her hand in marriage, eventhough he has barely known her for a week. She rejects farmer Oak's proposal. The next week Batsheba moves away to a far away town. Eventhough he is rejected by Miss Everdene he vows that he will always love her, and being the honest man that he is Oak did exactly that. Not long after Miss Everdene's rejection Oak finds himself in financial ruin. A young, inexperienced sheep dog that farmer Oak owns, carelessly chases all two hundred of Oak's sheep off of a cliff killing them. After this devestating blow Oak sells everything that he owns and moves away in search of new work. On the road to finding new work Oak happenes upon a small structure that is on fire. Oak immeaditly jumps into action to help save the surrounding structures from also burning to the ground. After he has accomplished this good deed Oak Finds out that the owner of the buildings he has just saved is no other than Miss Bathsheba Everdene. He also finds out that she is now the mistress of a large estate on which these buildings are located. In his desperate situation he askes Miss Everdene if she would like to hire a shepherd and out of her thankfulness she gives Oak a job. Oak continues to work for Miss Everdene through good times and bad, he is very faithful to her. Even after Miss Everdene marries a man that is less than good Oak's good nature and love for Miss Everdene forces him to stay by her side. Through Oaks good nature and honesty he earns the respect of all his neighbors and Bathsheba's farm prospers with his help. In being honest and good does farmer Oak earn Bathshebas love? Does Honesty really pay off? To learn the answers to these questions you will have to read this wonderful novel.
Thomas Hardy spares no expense in developing the characters in this delightful novel. Reading it made me feel as if I really knew the characters and I identified with most of them. His sense of depth and detail really brought the book to life. Although some things were too detailed and a bit boreing this book is definatly worth the time. A great story.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic treasure, September 13, 2003
Forget the infamous "love triangle". In Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy introduces us to the precarious "love square".
At the core of all the turmoil is beautiful farm girl, Bathsheba Everdene - spirited, vain, intelligent and adept at toying with the hearts of men. Inevitably beguiled by her charms a humble and kind farmer, Gabriel Oak, fervently attempts to win Bathsheba's affections. Enter the competition....
(suitor#2) Farmer Boldwood - a wealthy and temperate middle-aged man respected in the community, eventually plunges into maniacal obsession at the mere possibility of making the beloved Miss Everdene his wife; and (suitor#3) Sergeant Francis Troy - a dashing young philandering soldier, with his share of inner demons, ruthlessness and vanity, vies for Bathsheba's hand in marriage.
Bathsheba's ultimate decision, and the cataclysm it evokes, lies at the epicenter of Hardy's unforgettable ambivalent story.

"Far from the Madding Crowd", Thomas Hardy's fourth novel, saw publication in 1874 and earned him widespread popularity as a writer. A delicately woven tale of unrequited love and regret, set in the mid-19th century, "Far From the Madding Crowd" is a masterpiece of pure story-telling.
Hardy's classic style is a pleasure to read as he masterfully brings his characters and their dealings to life. I would not hesitate to say it definitely captured my heart as another favourite.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the infamous "love triangle"..., March 3, 2004
This review is from: Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
In Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy introduces us to the precarious "love square". At the core of all the turmoil is beautiful farm girl, Bathsheba Everdene - spirited, vain, intelligent and adept at toying with the hearts of men. Inevitably beguiled by her charms a humble and kind farmer, Gabriel Oak, fervently attempts to win Bathsheba's affections. Enter the competition: (suitor#2) Farmer Boldwood - a wealthy and temperate middle-aged man respected in the community, eventually plunges into maniacal obsession at the mere possibility of making the beloved Miss Everdene his wife; and (suitor#3) Sergeant Francis Troy - a dashing young philandering soldier, with his share of inner demons, ruthlessness and vanity, vies for Bathsheba's hand in marriage. Bathsheba's ultimate decision, and the cataclysm it evokes, lies at the epicenter of Hardy's unforgettable ambivalent story.
Far from the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy's fourth novel, saw publication in 1874 and earned him widespread popularity as a writer. A delicately woven tale of unrequited love and regret, set in the mid-19th century, Far From the Madding Crowd is a masterpiece of pure story-telling. Hardy's classic style is a pleasure to read as he masterfully brings his characters and their dealings to life. I would not hesitate to say it definitely captured my heart as another favourite.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forces of Nature, July 9, 2006
By 
KH1 (Middle America) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, the first of Thomas Hardy's 'Wessex' novels, tells the story of a small troupe of farmers and their workers in a sheep-farming community in the fictitious county of 'Wessex'.

Gabriel Oak has been a shepherd since his teenage years, as his father was before him, but he's moved up and purchased, on credit, his own farm. The work is hard, but he is confident that he will succeed, and takes pride in being his own man. Then one day, a new woman arrives in town. Bathsheeba Everdene is beautiful, headstrong, intelligent, but incurably vain; Farmer Oak falls in love with her immediately. A few months later, he proposes, and is utterly rejected. Bathsheeba moves on to care for her dying uncle, and take over his farm. Gabriel continues farming - until tragedy strikes.

He and Bathsheeba will cross paths again, this time not as lovers, but as mistress and servant. Bathsheeba's beauty, vanity and impetuousness leave a trail of carnage in her wake, and Gabriel can only watch on as lives are destroyed, farms are ruined, and his own heart is crushed repeatedly.

Hardy is famous for his fatalism, and this is displayed no more than in the character of Bathsheba Everdene. She is not an evil person, as the above summary would suggest - but her stunning beauty and fierce intelligence combine with her vanity and impulsivity to create something like a force of nature, and though she means only good she seems to be able to do nothing but wrong by those who care for her. She has no more control over her nature than she does over the weather. One of the most interesting aspects of this character is that her vices - vanity, impulsivity, which Hardy attributes to her being young and beautiful - lead to the downfall of others, but she is continuously saved from downfall by her own intelligence and inner personal strength.

REal tragedy finally does strike Bathsheba, but rather than let it destroy her as retribution for her wicked ways, she grows from it. We may not be able to escape the hardship of life, Hardy seems to be saying, but we can grow and prosper by learning from it.

This was a fantastically entertaining book. The only warning that I could give with it is that it is slow-moving. The action comes in fits and spurts, and Hardy has a penchant for elaborate descriptions of the countryside, for farmhouses, churches and festivals. They are beautifully written, but take time to digest fully. Highly recommended.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild and wooly in Wessex, October 30, 2003
By 
Few literary settings are more distinctive than Thomas Hardy's Wessex, a hilly, chalky, bucolic quilt of pastures and villages occupying the southwest of England, its residents sworn to the immutable cultural traditions of centuries long past. But it is not the goal of "Far from the Madding Crowd" to be merely a sentimental portrait of a region for which Hardy has a great affection, but a grandiose drama about the eventual union of a man and the woman he loves. In summary, Hardy does accede to a Happily Ever After ending, but how he gets to this point is why his novel deserves to be read.
It's not surprising that the novel was originally attributed to George Eliot because the protagonist, Gabriel Oak, as the novel's moral anchor, is very similar in character to Eliot's Adam Bede. Oak is trying to make a living on his own as a farmer, but a stroke of bad luck compels him to take a job as a shepherd for a beautiful young woman named Bathsheba Everdene who has recently inherited her uncle's farm and commands a large number of workers and servants. Oak iconically personifies the rustic setting, not only because of his surname but because of the intimacy with which he communes with nature, and his fondness for playing the flute seems designed to evoke an image of Pan.
Oak has an awkward history with Bathsheba -- he had known her before her windfall, but in her independent spirit she spurned his love. As the head of Weatherbury farm, however, she can't get by on her independence alone, and she needs Oak's expertise in ensuring her sheep are healthy and fit for wool production. Her romantic attention turns toward a profligate soldier named Francis Troy who, through an unlikely error, has just barely avoided wedding Fanny Robin, one of the Weatherbury servants. Bathsheba's eventual marriage to Troy breaks the hearts of Oak and another rival, a neighboring farmer named Boldwood whose affections she had once teased and whose obsessive nature erupts at a most climactic moment in the novel.
The plot developments are a flamboyant display of contrivance, but Hardy masters his devices so well it's impossible not to go along with him for the ride. As an example, consider the jilted Fanny who is so weary from sickness that she has to use a dog as a crutch to get to her destination where she finally dies; not until Hardy reveals what's written on the lid of her coffin do we (and Oak) realize the role Troy played in her death. Likewise, Troy's impulsive reaction to this incident seems like a purposely destructive measure that intends to stir even more turbulence into the story.
A large part of Hardy's appeal is his prose, which maximizes the value of a mastery of language; his sentences are like finely cut gems that demand to be held up to a light and studied for their craftsmanship. I believe that Hardy is the consummate novelist; he approaches the art of the novel as a painter looks upon a canvas, a weaver upon a tapestry, a composer upon an opera -- as the supreme representation of man in harmony with nature and in conflict with fate.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far From Ordinary, March 26, 2004
By 
NorthofCB (Bells, TN United States) - See all my reviews
Hardy is not my favorite author by any stretch of the imagination, but this is a work of beauty. Unlike other Victorian works (like those of Jane), "Far From the Madding Crowd" leave the chattering jiberish of scheming aristocrats behind to focus on the drama of the country and the working class. Also, this novel explores the "Woman Question" of the day (place in society) and presents a strong willed lead that breaks many of the molds of the time. Loyalty, love, loss, and understanding are all very beautifully and strongly discussed as well. A novel that should be required reading for all students.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a romance..., July 5, 2002
By 
Ritesh Laud (Houston, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Not my typical fare, whether in classics or in modern literature. The beautiful heroine of this 19th century novel, Bathsheba Everdene (naming of characters evidently isn't one of Hardy's foremost strengths), is pursued by three men. Their personalities remind me of the movie "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". Gabriel Oak is the Good dependable and reticent hero, Francis Troy is the Bad dashing soldier, and you find out towards the end that the handsome Farmer Boldwood is actually quite Ugly inside, though not Bad like Troy. Bathsheba is a somewhat unconventional woman for the time: confident in her ability to deal with men in matters of business, able to endure jarring emotional setbacks, and not afraid of confrontation. Naturally, since this is a romance novel the heroine must also possess some deeply feminine qualities: she's an emotional roller coaster, has a keen yearning to be desired, and feels great empathy for others' sorrows.
The characters' personalities and the numerous coincidences and accidental events that drive the plot all smack of "soap opera." The story may have been a groundbreaking achievement in its heyday, but today it just feels overused because many dramas, whether in novel or film form, recycle this work's themes and plot devices. However, Hardy displays extraordinary skill with the English language and I was delighted with his word choice numerous times throughout the novel. As an example, Hardy's way of describing a pocket watch whose hour hand is broken: "...though the minutes were told with precision, nobody could be quite certain of the hour they belonged to." Now imagine virtually everything in the settings described in witty fashion like that and you'll understand why the prose can be relished on its own merits, quite aside from the generally lackluster plot. The shocking climax did surprise me though.
Due to Hardy's formidable descriptive powers, I got a clear picture of all people and events and my attention never wandered. Also, as an avid amateur astronomer I greatly appreciated Hardy's evident knowledge of the night sky. He makes numerous references to actual constellations and asterisms, by which Oak has incidentally learned to tell time at night.
We can hardly blame Hardy for writing a romance that was unique and original 100 years ago but not today. But it does keep this novel from rating five stars, in my opinion, for a reader *today*. Nevertheless, it's highly enjoyable and I'm still savoring the many brilliant moments of prose contained in this novel.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book poor kindle edition, April 26, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This was my first kindle purchase.
I have loved this book for many years and know it well, so was dismayed to almost immediately find several lines missing and sentences running into each other, making no sense at all of some passages .
What's the point of having a favourite classic on kindle when I'm checking it against my trusted print copy and finding all these errors?
How can I trust what I am reading if this sort of thing is occuring?
Doesn't anyone check before they publish?
I'd really like my money back to buy an accurately transcribed edition please.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect book, pretty well, December 26, 2005
This review is from: Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I'm not sure that this book qualifies as one of the greatest of all time, but it is certainly one of my all-time favorites. My first aquaintance with the story was seeing the 1967 movies, with Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Peter Finch, and Alan Bates as the four main characters. (If you haven't seen it, this movie is very much worth the trouble.) Of course seeing the movie first has somewhat influenced the mental images of the characters in my head, despite the blonde, blue-eyed Christie playing the dark-haired, dark-eyed Bathsheba Everdene.

Yes, the story is about a beautiful women and the three men who court her, marry her, die for her, and swing for her (almost). There are lots of interesting sociological and historical topics here, and a great deal of the drama and pathos of the plot stems from the completely defenceless position of a women who, whatever wealth she may possess, essentially loses all control over her life when she marries someone whom, in contemporary terms, we might call a serial abuser.

But for me the real attraction of the book is the wonderful portrayal of nineteenth century rural life and the beautifully handled dialogue which is full of humor, pathos, and ultimately tragedy.

So, although in some respects the plot is not all the dissimilar from your typical Mills & Boon type scenario, there is much, much more in this book, and by the time you finish reading it, you have experienced a totally absorbing emotional rollercoaster ride and it is hard to say goodbye to these characters who truly come to life in the imagination.

Very, very highly recommended.
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Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Classics)
Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Classics) by Thomas Hardy (Paperback - April 29, 2003)
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