Length: 431 pages of text, 468 pages with footnotes
Setting: Wessex, England, 1870s
Interest: It was one of the BBC’s Big Reads
Summary: Bathsheba Everdeen inherits her uncle’s farm and she decides to run it. She goes so far as to fire her cheating bailiff and taking over his role. The shepherd, Gabriel Oak, is hired on at her farm when all his sheep are killed before lambing. He falls in love with Bathsheba, but she snubs him. He’s then content to lover her from afar and take care of her farm. Bathsheba teases the neighboring farmer, Boldwood, with a valentine. Boldwood falls head over heels in love (for the first time ever). Even though Bathsheba snubs him, he can’t stop thinking about how to win her. Bathsheba falls for Troy, a local soldier who’s already won the heart (and body) of Fanny, one of Bathsheba’s maids. Bathsheba and Troy secretly marry and Bathsheba quickly learns Troy is a cad. Troy disappears one night after Fanny shows up dead. Boldwood thinks he finally has a chance, but Bathsheba ultimately ends up with Oak.
Final thoughts: I thought it was a fine book. Definitely a piece of literature that someone who loves Jane Eyre would enjoy, I’m just not quite that person. Bathsheba turns down two offers of marriage from solid guys and then foolishly falls for the flashy soldier. She certainly learns to rue that decision. Things get very exciting at the end – everyone thought Troy was dead, but he shows up to ruin Boldwood’s plans/fantasies to finally get Bathsheba. She finally settles on Oak, who’s been there for her the whole time.
My edition of the book had a notes section that I appreciated. All of the local slang and references to popular works of the time were completely lost on me, so it was nice to get a bit of description.
Title comes from: According to the notes, it comes from Thomas Gray’s poem “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”, which isn’t even mentioned in the book.
Reading challenges fulfilled: #62 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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