Our Between the Lines Book Club choice for May is Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy. We will be discussing this book on May 19, 2018 at 10:30AM, at Arden Dimick Library, as well as in the comments below.
Far From the Madding Crowd was Thomas Hardy’s first big seller. The word “madding” means “frenzied,” and the title comes from a poem by Thomas Grey called “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.” The book takes place in Wessex, a fictional version of South West England, in the mid-1800s.
The heroine of the story, Bathsheba Everdeen, inherits a farm and runs it herself. Unlike many women of the era, she has no financial or social need to marry. However, Bathsheba is young and pretty and not as smart in matters of the heart as she is in business. The book explores her relationships with the charming but unreliable Troy, the steadfast sheep herder Gabriel Oak, and the possessive and obsessive William Boldwood. The book also explores the options available to women of different classes, and the challenges they face.
I reviewed this book for Smart Bitches, Trashy Books back in 2015. Here’s my review of the book. The review contains spoilers – beware! I loved Bathsheba’s character, and the recognition of love that is expressed through unglamorous means. Any idiot can bring a woman flowers, but a man who will get up in the middle of the night and come out to your farm to deal with your sick sheep is a man you want around for life. Here’s a defining quote from the book:
This good fellowship – camaraderie – usually occurring through the similarity of pursuits is unfortunately seldom super-added to love between the sexes, because men and women associate, not in their labors but in their pleasures merely. Where, however, happy circumstances permit its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death – that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, besides which the passion usually called by the name is as evanescent as steam.
I hope you all enjoy this book! If you need a study guide, try Shmoop.com.