We’ve officially struck upon the book I enjoyed reading the least! I never would have guessed that in a year that had me reading 50 Shades of Grey and a Nicholas Sparks novel, neither would be the worst romance I had to read. Seriously, this book is horrible. Ugh. I needed wine to finish reading it. Don’t judge until you’ve suffered this monstrosity.
The Book: Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (1874)
Genre: Regency romance
First impressions: I am not a person who reads regency romance, for one over-arching reason: the prose is insufferable. And nowhere have I found a better example of this than Far From the Madding Crowd, which starts up the self-important shitshow with the title itself. They aren’t far from the “madding crowd”–they are the madding crowd. Every single character in this book is batshit insane, with the exception of Farmer Oak, who is just a simpering Nice GuyTM.
The basic jist of the story here is Bathsheba Everdene (whose name is this book’s only redeeming quality), willful young girl, inherits her uncle’s farm, gets courted by the borderline insane Farmer Boldwood, but marries actual sociopath Sergeant Troy, who ends up faking his own death by drowning. Then Bathsheba agrees under duress to marry Boldwood, but instead Troy comes back and Boldwood murders him and then goes to jail himself, and ultimately Bathsheba marries Oak. This all sounds very dramatic and thrilling, but it happens over an extended period of time, generously punctuated by various farmhands bragging about themselves, and detailed treatises on how, exactly, one should go about washing sheep. You think I’m kidding but that really happens.
And keep in mind what I said about the prose. All of these eventful happenings are buried under sexist, interminably dull prose like this:
“Bathsheba, in spite of her mettle, began to feel unmistakable signs that she was inherently the weaker vessel. She strove miserably against the femininity which would insist upon supplying unbidden emotions in stronger and stronger current. She had tried to elude agitation by fixing her mind on the trees, sky, any trivial object before her eyes, whilst his reproaches fell, but ingenuity could not save her now.”
WHY WOULD ANYBODY WILLINGLY READ THIS CRAP???
Will it adapt?: No, it will not. It’ll be another one of those self-important HBO-style dramas that think they’re saying something important by adapting ~a classic~, but because the original story is so steeped in misogynist bullshit, and also apparently didn’t have any editing at all, it’ll just come out a hot mess not fit for retelling anywhere.
Should I read it?: ABSOLUTELY NOT
“She saw coming up the road a man like Mr. Boldwood. It was Mr. Boldwood.” -actual quote from this actual novel
P.S. You bet your ass this one got live-tweeted.
This post is part of my I Read It First series.