To be read with: a cup of hot apple cider containing a pinch of cinnamon and 1oz Jack Daniels Whiskey; to keep you warm through the cold seasons of England’s countryside.
It was quite refreshing to read a Victorian Era novel where the sole goal of the heroine is not marriage, and for once she is in control of her own person, farm, and livelihood. Bathsheba Everdene is driven, independent and multifaceted. Bathsheba interests the reader, and has them rooting for her even though sometimes she does idiotic things. The male characters however, leave a little to be desired. They fit pretty squarely into preset archetypes: the strong and steady one, the possessive older man, and of course, the militia bad boy. While this helps further plot, and lets the audience know which male character should be their favourite, it somewhat cheats the reader of realistic relationships.
However, where character fleshing lacks, the setting and events flourish. After many a Victorian novel centered on dances and joyful walks to town with female company, it was captivating to be presented with the gritty life of farm work and small town economic buying and trading. While a heavy portion of the novel revolves around the three romantic interests, Bathsheba is represented as a strong feminist lead who is capable of running a farm and looking out for herself.
Far From The Madding Crowd was an intriguing page-turner that relied more on tension and realistic life in rural England than on pretty dresses and witty repartee. Recommended for anyone interested in Victorian literature, love triangles, or strong feminine leads. This was my first Thomas Hardy novel, it will not be my last.