Far from the Madding Crowd was Hardy's fourth novel, gaining significant popularity and critical attention. It tells of Gabriel, an up-and-coming shepherd, who falls in love with a proud and vain young beauty Bathsheba, who refuses his offer of marriage as she values her independence too much. The novel can be described as an early piece of feminist literature and is regularly studied in schools. This is part of the "Young Adult Classics" series launched by Naxos AudioBooks in 2009.
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A vivid classic set in a remote rural corner of early Victorian England features conflicting values, class dichotomy, opposing principles, and romantic drama. Never ceasing to be relevant, Hardy's classic endures as Bathsheba Everdene waivers between wielding her feminine wiles to secure love and marriage and maintaining her stoic independence and self-reliance. Neville Jason narrates with an upper-crust accent, then deftly shifts to the characters' distinctive singsong Cornish speech and earthy expressions. He adapts well to the tones of women and the elderly. The audiobook's musical interludes, while striking the moods reflected in scenes, are slightly strident - but are not a distraction from the novel's fatalistic turmoil and picturesque descriptions.
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