Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the madding crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

I love Thomas Hardy. I always thoroughly enjoy his books, knowing full well that my mind will easily produce a beautiful image thanks to his skill at elongating even the tiniest of details.  I revel in the depths of each character, enjoy looking at the landscapes he creates so expertly and his social conventions are insightful. I wish more modern authors would allow themselves to be influenced by late 19th Century writers…

Not my first time reading Far From the Madding Crowd, and it is by no means my favourite Hardy novel but I love his heroine characters. I read Bathsheba as strong and confident (whereas I am sure that my Husband would take her as fickle with a lack of life skills), she creates such a dynamic twist to the plot, almost as if Hardy struggles to keep up with her choices. The story is set in a rural town, with Bathesheba as the new owner of a farm after her Uncle died and left it to her. The story follows the relationship between her and her 3 very differing suitors; the first is simple but steadfast Gabriel Oak. The second a wealthy William Boldwood who owns the farm adjacent and finally there is the lustful Sergeant Troy. 

Bathesheba is a real woman, who has enough determination in life to run her farm, but simultaneously enough love in her heart to be wooed by a strapping young soldier. She makes mistakes and retributions. She is gossiped about yet highly respected. She has the brains to ensure the success of the farm and it’s workers yet she has the faith in God to see her through turbulent times.  I would like to think that she is one of the earliest fiesty characters in literature.

Like the first time I read Far from the Madding Crowd, I loved it.  I have a couple of favourite quotes; the first is Oak’s proclamation of love very early in the book;

“And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be— and whenever I look up, there will be you.
-Gabriel Oak”

I particularly like this as later on in the book, when Bathsheba is in turmoil she glances into Oak’s house to see him sitting by the fire, suggesting that his simple and constant love remains as steadfast and true as the day he revealed it.

The below quote I think is very poignant,

“It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.”
 Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd


5 star


Madame Bovary

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Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

One of the few books with many faces…and TV/film adaptations too! It will be an internally popular book and I am sure I will continue to see new, televised Emma Bovarys.

I loved this book when I first read it at uni, within my French literature module.  We studied it in the context of the Bourgeoisie, however upon reading it again the symbols and themes are simply endless. I suppose the most obvious is the helplessness, fragility and powerlessness of women, I think there is also an element of irony to this as Emma Bovary’s unhappiness is in many instances self inflicted. Then again, she is taken advantage of and preyed upon to which she fails to fight……oh we can go round in circles!

A lovely book, one that I hope we all read one day. I recommend it, but have given it 4 stars as I think it lacks passion. I didn’t find myself thinking about this book all day, or run to pick it up and continue reading….this could be a translation issue as I first read it in the book’s native French.

4 star





The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This book was a breath of fresh, classic air.  Oscar Wilde is an author who is not obsessed with the beauty of the earth like so many of his predecessors, but rather has a fascination with human traits and interpersonal skills with most of the book being written in the form of conversation.  A great example of the modernisation of British literature; moving from excessive descriptions and weak protagonists slighted by life onto strong characters infatuated with guilty pleasures and a desire to grab at opportunities.  In fact, there was no religion either, a shock for its time (However, with the sexuality of Oscar, I’m not surprised).

En excellent and exciting read; I did not feel that I was reading a classic novel but rather a modern book set in period costume with added extravagant whims.

My biggest joy when reading about Mr.Gray was the the endless quotes, Oscar has the most beautiful way with words. “The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. Your lips rewrite history.”

I have given this book 4 stars as although I thoroughly enjoyed the read, I was not quite as hooked to the book as previous favourites….or in fact the one I am now reading (Wait and see!).

But steer clear of the film adaptation (with Colin Firth), unless you want to watch an  alternative ending/whole second half of the book?

Peter Pan

Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie

A book that was constantly being recommended to me, so, I have finally gotten around to reading it (sort of).  The story began well, I was beginning to feel engrossed. However, there were two factors that irritated me tremendously; the first being that the book was originally a play. Therefore, the narrative is never really that clear, and there were moments where I felt the book really needed the reaction of the audience to carry it through. The second point being the target audience – children. The writing style is short and to the point and there is rarely an elaboration, tolerable to an extent. Except, when the writer decides to add in anything he pleases, randomly, to help the story along…..so frustrating, and ultimately my downfall. I only read this book up to 82% of the way through. I tried so hard, but in the end Barrie lost me. I was lost amongst the lost boys themselves.

A much darker story than the Disney remake, with strange adult/child relationships and child/child sexualisation (Wendy and Peter, Peter and Tiger Lily…).

I don’t think you will be missing much if you bypass this story. There are far better classics in the literary world.


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

A friend of mine who is currently residing in Afganistan as a British Army Officer said that he read this book within 6-8 hours and recommended my reading it, assuming I would enjoy it.  I am not sure if this is 6-8 hours continued reading because as far as my habit of reading 2-3 books a week average goes, this one took me one whole week to complete!

I have to be honest, this book is the complete opposite of my preconceived ideas attained from watching numerous films and adaptations. Even the writing style was so very unexpected, with the story written through the use of letters (similar to Dracula).  But the surprise was a good one, after I realised that I in fact had no clue as to the storyline of this book I enjoyed it…not loved.  Quite a placid book in terms of classic horror, not a lot of action happens.  The most shocking, unexpected element was how nice the creation was, he was a good natured beast that was judged wrongly and so acted upon those ideologies….there was no “IT IS ALIVE” moment and in fact addressing the actual creation of the monster was kept to a bare minimum, with no neck bolts.

Nevertheless, a good book with perhaps a hidden meaning to not judge people on looks? Or that we are doomed from our creation? Many possibilities.

I have given it 3 stars as overall I found it quite boring and I believe the reason it took me so long to read was because I felt it a chore to finish. However, I do recommend that everyone rediscover this classic for what it actually is…

I have just downloaded ‘The strange case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr Hyde.” I must have the horror fever!


1984 by George Orwell

I have always been aware of George, and once as a teen I attempted Animal Farm, but being the political ignorant I am, simply could not get into it.  In hindsight, how was I supposed to even be aware of the Russian connotations etc at that age!? As my mum says, I am of the wrong generation for Animal Farm.

So I was chatting to a girlfriend the other day (Hollie) and she recommended that I give him another go, according to her “Just plough through and it ends up being quite good”.  On that note I returned to Animal Farm, read the synopsis and thought ‘I simply do not understand the blurb‘, how could I even consider pursuing the book?! I then researched 1984 and thought that political satire aside, this sounds like a love story…and I love a good romance.

Thankfully, I did not need to ‘plough through’, I was hooked after the first page.  I read this at every opportunity and often when I didn’t have the opportunity.  I not only recognised the allusions to an omnipresent government but I enjoyed them, I thought his creativity was fantastic, so great in fact that I noticed how many films/books/TV programs/businesses/characters have been influenced by this book……despite the political references this book is the seed to all modern creations; Harry Potter, Minority Report…to name just 2.

An enjoyable read, perhaps not for a casual reader but I would never suggest anyone bypass this piece of pure genius!

P.S I have put this review into my classics section…..I think it is, isn’t it?

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy:

The Mayor Casterbridge, Return of the Native, Far From the Madding Crowd, Tess of the Duberilles, Lifes Little Ironies, Jude the Obscure

Such a fan of Thomas Hardy, have always enjoyed his style of writing. Out of the 6 books of his I have read thus far my favourites are Tess of the Durbervilles and the Mayor of Casterbridge. There is always an element of vulnerability in his protagonists and I think that it is this that makes them easy to relate to. Enjoyable books, but not necessarily gripping.