In a remote corner of early Victorian England, where traditional practices remain untouched by time, Bathsheba Everdene stands out as a beacon of female independence and self-reliance. However, when confronted with three suitors, among them the dashing Sergeant Troy, she shows a reckless capriciousness that threatens the stability of the whole community. Published in 1874, and an immediate best seller, Far From the Madding Crowd established Thomas Hardy as one of Britain's foremost novelists.
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I must say that, with future books, it will be hard not to rate the authors' words and compare them with Thomas Hardy's knowledge of a dictionary and his construction of a sentence. It can be rather simple to narrate the combined works of many characters onto pieces of paper and call it a novel, but Hardy has a lovely style that I'll show presently. In randomly turning to any page in the book I've found the following paragraph: 'At this moment on the ridge, up against the blazing sky, a figure was visible, like the black snuff in the midst of a candle-flame. Then it moved and began to bustle about vigorously from place to place, carrying square skeleton masses, which were riddled by the same rays. A small figure on all fours followed behind. The tall form was that of Gabriel Oak; the small one that of George; the articles in course of transit were hurdles.' Now, if this had been me (or many other authors) I would've said 'Mr Boldwood saw Gabriel Oak and his horse moving hurdles in the hot sun.' See what I mean by eloquence?
As for the story, it is terrific! Gabriel Oak is a loveable man who devotes his life to hard work. Unfortunately, one of his herding dogs happens to chase his flock of ewes off a cliff, so he's left without work and he comes to be employed by Bathsheba, a woman that he falls in love with after she saves his life. I rooted for him the entire time, hoping that she would find some sort of romance with him, but, even after she doesn't, his devotion to her as a concerned employee doesn't stray, though she's being courted by an older gentleman after she plays a trick on him and she ends up marrying a gambling drunkard who doesn't love her in the first place. And at this point, the story's not even halfway through!
Now, when it comes to Jamie Parker's reading of the novel, I found it spot-on! There were several characters with regional accents that he performed incredibly well. His recognition and performance of the author's words was one for the ages. There was only one thing I didn't enjoy about it, at first: his performance was so accurate that, when whispered words were uttered, it was sometimes difficult to hear on my laptop. But this was quickly remedied with the use of headphones, and his performance was enjoyed exponentially more! Well done, sir!