My Week in Books: 26th April

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote one of these and there’s a good reason for that – I haven’t finished any books. I know, I’m ashamed of myself just typing it. The London Train left me in a really weird mood and I couldn’t find any books that suited that. I started several before abandoning them only a few pages in. Finally I settled on Caitlin Moran’s Moranthology; turns out I was in the mood for non-fiction, a mood I didn’t know I had. The copy I have, however – a humongous hardback – is not ideal for train journeys. So I started on the rather overwhelming task of Far From the Madding Crowd. Also inordinately long. Two weeks later and I’ve finally finished one of them!

I go back to the monotony of 9 to 5 tomorrow though which counter-intuitively speeds up my reading – bus journeys and lunch breaks are prime reading time. And I’ve got some good ones lined up so I should be back on track in no time.

Far from

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD by THOMAS HARDY

Where I finished it: Literally a minute before I published this post.

How long: Weeks and weeks.

Favourite quote: All romances end at marriage.

Would I read it again: Doubtful, just because it’s so long.

I read this mostly because I really wanted to go and see the film but just couldn’t bring myself to watch the film without reading the book. Especially as it was on my TBR list anyway after I’d enjoyed Tess of the D’Urbervilles so much.

For the first third of the book NOTHING HAPPENS. There’s a really good plot hidden in the second half and it’s such a pity you have to wade through the first 150 pages to get to it. But that might just be me and my disdain for long passages of description.

Even though it’s written fifty years later I find myself comparing Thomas Hardy books to Jane Austen. Actually I compare everything to Jane Austen, but classics in particular. I almost felt as though this was the other side of Sense and Sensibility – Sergeant Troy was Willoughby, Fanny was his Marianne and Bathsheba is the woman he marries for money.

But this has more realism than a Jane Austen novel. The characters aren’t good or evil; there isn’t such a clear cut line of who Bathsheba should end up with. As much as I was routing for her to end up with Gabriel I didn’t necessarily want anything bad to happen to Boldwood. I didn’t want him to be unhappy.

I’m not sure that Bathsheba is altogether likeable. She’s supposed to be this icon of Independent Woman but I didn’t get that so much. I found her emotions and actions completely understandable and I connected to her character but when it came down to it, was she really that remarkable? I like the book for that, for portraying this ordinary woman making bad decisions, but it’s not what I’d expected, especially after hearing an interview with Carey Mulligan where she talks about how she was drawn to play the part because of Bathsheba’s independence.

I think this review is giving the wrong impression. I loved this book. Thomas Hardy is a genius. If you can get through the first 100 pages then you’re in for a real treat.

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