I began this challenge by asking my friends what their favourite books were and then choosing between them. I asked for valid arguments and began a short debate. In the end, I had to choose the story that inspired my best friend to name their son “Gabriel”…

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

At first I thought this would be a bit of a challenge as I haven’t read a period book in quite some time. Never have I read one by Thomas Hardy. However, after a couple of weeks I came to the realisation that this was quite a sturdy book and may take me quite a while.. Here I am, almost two months later, and I have finally finished it!

The story is not an overall happy one, and although you begin it by sticking by the heroine, Bathsheba, it turns out she can talk the talk, but gave up pretty quickly on walking the walk when a good moustache came along.

However, Gabriel was a great guy through and through and I always felt he deserved so much better than what he was getting. All the characters depend on him even if they don’t realise it, and although he clearly love Bathsheba from the very beginning he accepts that he will never win her love in return, but carries on looking out for her best interests over even his own.

I found the plot easy enough and twisty enough to be enjoyable, I guess it was the language used that I found difficult. The farmers used a very broken English, and I struggled to follow the exact turn of conversation. However, I was gripped by the last few chapters and it’s yet another classic to add to my collection.

I asked sarah, the friend that recommended the story to me, to note a few words explaining why she loved the story so much. What she came back with was as follows; (I did not read this until after finishing the book so it did not sway my view in any way)

“One of the reasons I love this book is that it has all of the romantic intrigue of a Jane Austen novel but with some darkness and grit!

Hardy was so clever at creating characters that are real in their complexities. It was also nice to see such a strong female character on the front line in a classic novel. I felt really inspired by Bathsheba’s determination and defiance in the face of so many people who doubted her. But she still had a vulnerability that made her really relatable and human.

And then there’s Gabriel Oak! I loved how his feelings for Bathsheba were a warming undertone running through the entire book. He stands solidly by her even though he believes he has no chance to win her affections. His relentless loyalty and belief in her made me fall in love with him! 

As a reader, I was gripped from start to finish and found that I became really emotionally invested in the characters and their stories. I developed hopes and dreams for them! Lastly, the conclusion to the story was everything I had hoped for without being fluffy or predictable. My perfect book!”

Overall I enjoyed the story and the plot-twists kept it interesting. It was just the chapters slotted in here and there of the farmers sat around the fire retelling stories about things that had no consequence, rhyme or reason that confused and delayed me finishing it!

Glad I can put another figurative notch in my bookshelf though!

My next challenge is;

A Book by an Author I’ve Never Read Before..