I have just finished reading Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. I had always thought that the word “Madding” in the title was Maddening until I went to write it and I’m glad I caught it before I embarrassed myself. The two words actually mean the same thing, a maddening or frenzied crowd, and Hardy got the term from another Thomas, Thomas Gray, who wrote a poem named Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard published in 1751. The phrase refers to those who are removed from the commotion of daily life and are buried in a churchyard. And there are people buried in a churchyard in Hardy’s book.
This is my first Thomas Hardy book and his writing is as enjoyable to me as a Wilkie Collins book, so I have added a few more Thomas Hardy books to my collection during a recent Barnes & Noble sale when I was pick up classics for $5. It’s a real story with a plot that is interesting and filled with action and events, anticipation and surprises.
This was published in 1874, and those times not being particularly advantageous for women, but in this book, Thomas writes about a single woman in charge of a farm, named Bathsheba. I’m going to give a plot point away (this is your spoiler alert), by saying that one of the morals of this book is that if more than one person tells you that some guy is a jerk, there’s a reason you’ve been warned and don’t marry him. Smooth-talkers can be worms. Even though this book is about farming in Victorian England, the plot points are relevant to those of us living in the biggest cities today in 21st century.
Far from the Madding Crowd is in the public domain. This means the book is available to read or listen to for free online at Gutenberg.org and Librivox.org. I had the opportunity to partially listen to the Librivox recording of this book while doing my housework and enjoyed the narrator’s deep Irish (I think) accent.
BBC listed this book at number 48 from their survey The Big Read in 2003 and it finished 10th on The Guardian‘s list of greatest love stories of all time in 2007. If you’re looking for action and emotion, then Thomas Hardy’s books are for you. Go to your quiet place and start reading or listening to this one.