Far from the Madding Crowd
Thomas Hardy, 1874
300-400 pp. (varies by publisher)
Far from the Madding Crowd, Hardy's first masterpiece, received wide acclaim upon publication and remains among the author's best-loved works. The tale of a passionate, independent woman and her three suitors, it explores Hardy's trademark themes: thwarted love, the inevitability of fate, and the encroachment of industrial society on rural life. (From AudioFile, Portland, Maine.)
Gabriel Oak is only one of three suitors for the hand of the beautiful and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. He must compete with the dashing young soldier Sergeant Troy and the respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. And while their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she discovers the terrible consequences of an inconstant heart.
Far from the Madding Crowd was the first of Hardy's novels to give the name Wessex to the landscape of south-west England, and the first to gain him widespread popularity as a novelist. Set against the backdrop of the unchanging natural cycle of the year, the story both upholds and questions rural values with a startlingly modern sensibility. This new edition retains the critical text that restores previously deleted and revised passages. (From Oxford University Press edition.)
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