“It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.”
Gabriel Oak is an awesome shepherd who is very good at his job, but has a very bad dog, and so has a bit of a loss of fortune. All of his fortune, as a matter of fact. Bathsheba Everdene, she of the unfortunate name that may or may not have made me laugh quite a bit through the book, is a young woman who was of no fortune, then was of quite a fortune. She has inherited a sheep farm, and is in need of a shepherd to help her manage it.
“When a strong woman recklessly throws away her strength she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to throw away.”
And their story is that which is oft found in books of this era and earlier – if you’re fond of the Bronte sisters or Jane Austen, you’ll find it a familiar trope; the couple who are meant to be together make all kinds of bad choices and have all kinds of fates befall them that it seems the Universe doesn’t want to see them together, even though you – as the reader – know that they would both be happy if things would just align right and they’d get on with it. I’m not going to go into all the fates and furies that befall them here. It’s too much fun to read them, and I’m not going to be the one who spoils that for you.
It’s a sweet story. The language is a little dense, but again, if you’re familiar with other books from similar times, you won’t find it too overwhelming. I found it beautiful.
“We learn that it is not the rays which bodies absorb, but those which they reject, that give them the colours they are known by; and in the same way people are specialized by their dislikes and antagonisms, whilst their goodwill is looked upon as no attribute at all.”
It’s very much a book of it’s time, which is frustrating at times, especially when it seems as though the main characters are driven so much more by the expectations of society than they should be. It’s a good reminder of how much freedom we have in our choices, in current times.
“It appears that ordinary men take wives because possession is not possible without marriage, and that ordinary women accept husbands because marriage is not possible without possession”
I think this book has inspired me to read more of Thomas Hardy. I think I was a bit prejudiced, honestly, thinking that women authors in history wrote books I would enjoy more. I found this to be lovely and sweet and such a little gem of a book. And honestly? Now I can’t wait to watch the movie.
“To persons standing alone on a hill during a clear midnight such as this, the roll of the world is almost a palpable movement. To enjoy the epic form of that gratification it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the night, and, having first expanded with a sense of difference from the mass of civilized mankind, who are diregardful of all such proceedings at this time, long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars.”