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Extended Audio Sample Far from the Madding Crowd Audiobook, by Thomas Hardy Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (35,708 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Thomas Hardy Narrator: John Lee Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2008 ISBN: 9781400176984
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Gabriel Oak is only one of three suitors for the hand of the beautiful and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. He must compete with the dashing young soldier Sergeant Troy and the respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. And while their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she discovers the terrible consequences of an inconstant heart.

Far from the Madding Crowd was the first of Hardy’s novels to give the name Wessex to the landscape of southwest England and the first to gain him widespread popularity as a novelist. Set against the backdrop of the unchanging natural cycle of the year, the story both upholds and questions rural values with a startlingly modern sensibility.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Wonderful…A landscape which satisfies every stir of the imagination and which ravishes the senses.”

    Ronald Blythe, author of Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pat | 2/13/2014

    " I think I love Thomas Hardy novels. Tess was good, but this one was even better! I'll definitely be looking for another one soon. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Genevieve | 2/12/2014

    " A great novel, full of flawed characters, detailed descriptions, symbolism, twists and suspense. It was a little slow at first but I loved the passages about the countryside and farming. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Helynne | 2/10/2014

    " Back in graduate school, I took a course that was entirely on Thomas Hardy--his main novels and some of his short stories. It was interesting to learn that all of his novels ran first as serials--chapter by chapter in newspapers and other periodicals. However, the most interesting thing we learned in that course was that Hardy relies largely on ironies and little coincidencies--some fortuitous, but most of them ill-timed--to move along his stories and bring them to what is usually an unexpected conclusion. We see a lot of these Hardian ironies and happenstances coming together in the story of Far from the Madding Crowd and our heroine Bathsheba Everdene. (Isn't that a great name?) Bathsheba is a beautiful, young, single woman running her own farm. She is doing well on her own, but, obviously, she could use the help--and the love--of a devoted man. There are three men in her life, and, naturally, it is the little ironies and missteps along the way, as well as some innocent, but ill-timed, judgments on her part that will lead her into the unworthy arms of one, then nearly into marriage with another before she will end up with the right one. Bathsheba, for all of her naivete and bad choices, is an admirable character and it is gratifying to observe her personal growth along the way. The 1967 film version of the novel starring Julie Christie, Terrence Stamp, Peter Finch and Alan Bates is nicely done. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Derek Bridge | 2/5/2014

    " A superior kind of melodrama set in mid-nineteenth century rural England - there's much to be learned about country life of the time and a plot that rolls nicely along. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elizabeth | 2/2/2014

    " Who wouldn't like the a book with someone named Bathesheba? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tia Jones | 2/1/2014

    " There's a chick named Bathsheba and a dude named Troy... hell I don't really remember it I just remember that I didn't care about it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stacey | 1/31/2014

    " I had never read Thomas Hardy and feel I have made a great discovery! How could I have missed reading this up til now? I loved this story. It was quite difficult in the language and Victorian in sentiment but I couldn't put it down. I am emotionally drained and want the story to go on and on! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Yllacaspia | 1/31/2014

    " If I could marry any fictional character it would be Gabriel Oak. Even if he does smell of sheep. Oh, and I'd rather he looked like Nathaniel Parker than Alan Bates! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amelia Rentell | 1/29/2014

    " Melancholy. Character development was good and some of the plot lines were interesting but I wouldn't have read this if I hadn't had to. Maybe I would have in the future. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Manu | 1/28/2014

    " It took forever, but I loved every word of it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 1/27/2014

    " This book is marvelous, almost sublime. Watching Bathsheba grow and change through her life is a test in patience with her character, at times, but seeing her grow to appreciate Gabriel Oak makes the journey worth it. I want to live Far from the Madding Crowd. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Frank | 1/26/2014

    " Summertime is the right time for Hardy, though this may not have been the right Hardy to read. Read my full review of this novel here. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Samuel | 1/26/2014

    " Hardy's novels are smack full of heavy, hard-hitting character interactions which demonstrate the practical uses of morals and virtue...and deeper life wisdoms generally learned over time and suffering. Besides this, I have some suspicions that he pulled some of these tales from reality around him at the time...although everything I've read of his has been completely credible anyways. He also displays a real talent for bringing things full circle in the end...and in a way that is fitting. This novel also took quite a look at various reasons folks fall in love and get married...and, after all the dust has settled, what really was better. No details on that though...don't want to spoil for other readers. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kimberley | 1/24/2014

    " I'm really not a classics reader and I found this one very hard going at first but when you got used to the flowery writing and long descriptions it actually had a really good story - I would really like to see it on film. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 heartful | 1/21/2014

    " I adore Hardy, and this is one of my favourites. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina | 1/20/2014

    " My favorite book by Hardy because it has a happier ending than most of his works. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Darin | 1/10/2014

    " I wanted to give this classic a read since many people list Thomas Hardy as a must read. The story was interesting, but the verbosity of the writing was difficult to get through. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anne Sanow | 1/9/2014

    " My first Hardy, and for a long while Bathsheba Everdene was my favorite heroine, albeit with idiotic taste in men. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gloriavirtutisumbra | 1/9/2014

    " I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this one. I kept waiting for Thomas Hardy to put my favorite character through hell, but he must have liked Gabriel Oak as much as I did, and held his hand from the killing blow. Very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenna | 1/5/2014

    " This book demands to be read in the summertime. out of doors if at all possible. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lara | 1/5/2014

    " I love Thomas Hardy's writing, so I stuck with this novel, even though it didn't hook me until I'd made it about halfway through. I rather liked the way he described the wrinkly face of the first character we meet in the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nikki | 1/3/2014

    " This was such a fun book. It took awhile to get into, but it was a total soap opera with lots of drama and twists and turns. Very fun!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Claire | 1/1/2014

    " A friend of mine is a big Thomas Hardy fan, and I too enjoy his work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather Corridon | 12/31/2013

    " Ever since I read Tess of the D'Urbervilles in high school, I have adored Thomas Hardy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa Hale | 12/22/2013

    " Thomas Hardy is such an amazing writer. He is the quintessential story teller--my favorite author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lori | 12/19/2013

    " Lovely book with descriptions of scenery so vivid you feel like you are there. How can you not love a man like Gabriel Oak? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Danette | 12/13/2013

    " The language is very 'olde English' but once you get past that the characters are well developed and the story is a good one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anton | 12/2/2013

    " A love story like you've never thought of it before. Is true love a passion or a codependent union? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Angela | 12/1/2013

    " I loved this book. As a lover of Dorset the setting was perfect and the characters were well developed. As usual with Hardy there was a lot of tragedy running through the novel; particularly moving was the workhouse deaths of mother and child. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ricardo Lowe | 11/30/2013

    " I could not put this book down. There were so many vignettes into the main and auxiliary characters of the book and there are several sub-plots. They are all self-antagonists; victims of their own hubris. No one learns anything until it is too late. I love this stuff. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Corrijean | 11/28/2013

    " Disagree with the people that thought Hardy's treatment of Bathsheba's character was sexist. Women make bad romantic decisions at times, and this doesn't necessarily mean they are weak. I thought the book was well written and enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gini | 11/28/2013

    " Like many early novels, structural issues and some windy descriptive passages that I skimmed, but wry humor and a heroine who is not a mere milksop. A decent read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lamplight | 11/24/2013

    " Ok, they talk about sheep and the (terrible) rustic decor of the local pub a bit on the "too much" side but the romance b/w Bethsheba and Farmer Oak, ridiculous as their names are to us now....is SOO romantic! Sigh. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 11/2/2013

    " Great book, and well worth a read. The ending was a little predictable, but very good book regardless "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Asriel | 10/29/2013

    " If you are looking for your typical fairytale, you will both love and hate this story. It ends on an upbeat note but only after the dredges of life has slung its fair share of mud, misery, and pain on all involved. An excellent insight into the dangers of vanity and the beauty of loyalty. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janelle V. | 10/24/2013

    " I am probably sentimental about this because I liked the Alan Bates/Julie Christie/Peter Finch/Terence Stamp movie so much as well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Becky | 10/17/2013

    " Thomas Hardy has to be my favourite author of all time, and this is the best of his books. It has so many plots integrated into one and is so hard to put down! Hardy has put a lot of thought into the way that he presents his characters to make the reader feel like they have known them for ever. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa42 | 10/16/2013

    " I really liked it. It is an interesting story, one in which the characters keep going through trails and separations and you get frustrated and think they will never be together. It is worth it though! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janelle Fallan | 8/28/2013

    " The scene where Sgt. Troy demonstrates his prowess with the broadsword to Bathsheba Everdeen ("Don't move! I won't hurt you!") is one of the funniest, most erotic I've come across in 19th Century literature. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maribeth | 7/20/2013

    " Holy crap, I loved this book! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Joseph | 7/12/2013

    " The most boring book I have read in a looooong time. I say 'read', but I skipped through most of it, lest it sap but one more minute of my life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tac | 7/4/2013

    " Beautifully written romance, with a strong woman in a believable reLationship (even if some of the situations are less so) . I love it every time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kaylee | 6/25/2013

    " While dated (oh, the roles of the sexes!) and focused on a love trapezoid (or maybe more a love "Y"?), this was a surprisingly great read. The characters and writing were enough to make me turn a[n intentional] blind eye to the shortcomings. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susi | 6/22/2013

    " My favorite book of all time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrealenoir | 5/18/2013

    " A tiny bit lighter than other Hardy novels. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharon | 4/30/2013

    " I read this book when I was 12. I remember having to renew this book at least 3 times at the library. The librarian was so happy that I was sticking with the book, but the truth is I was really enjoying it. It just was taking me a long time to get into the language. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Clwaddoups | 4/15/2013

    " Incredibly descriptive, but so well done. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annette | 2/27/2013

    " It's been awhile since I read this, but a good read... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ashleigh Hebert | 1/28/2013

    " An very good story of loyalty. Almost a primer in how friendships are made and kept. Hardy is also freakin hilarious, softly making fun of his characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jamie | 12/30/2012

    " Who remembered how funny Hardy could be. A good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jatining Siti | 11/23/2012

    " This book taught about love, honesty and friendship. I really like the ending. Oh, so sweet... :') "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ronda Laventure | 10/11/2012

    " One of my very favorit books-Thomas Hardy can write funny too! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Clwaddoups | 6/28/2012

    " Incredibly descriptive, but so well done. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol | 5/29/2012

    " Started out slow, but became a very good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Keith Escott | 4/12/2012

    " Best opening line to a novel I have ever read. " When farmer oak smiled...." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melody | 3/14/2012

    " I can't say that is is my favorite classic novel but I did enjoy it. I did not like Bathsheba and I absolutely loathed the simpering, spineless weirdo Mr Boldwood. Still, it's hard for me not to like a story story the English countryside, especially one as well-written as this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Franz | 2/24/2012

    " good read, but close to the end of the book the coincidental encounters stretched belief. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carl | 12/29/2011

    " Hardy was one of my favorites, but haven't read anything in years. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margo | 12/29/2011

    " Surprisingly, I enjoyed this Hardy novel. Gabriel Oak is a great character. There are some really amusing bits amongst Hardy's endless prose. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carmen | 11/26/2011

    " My favorite British novel of all time! Haunting, gorgeous, and unforgettable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 10/17/2011

    " Great book, and well worth a read. The ending was a little predictable, but very good book regardless "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Claire Guerin | 9/29/2011

    " Very entertaining and a nice respite from Hardy's usual doom and gloom. Amusing to note how women are the cause of the world's problems. ;) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tia Jones | 8/23/2011

    " There's a chick named Bathsheba and a dude named Troy... hell I don't really remember it I just remember that I didn't care about it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elisabeth | 8/12/2011

    " I've read all of Hardy's books at least twice. This one, maybe three times. It's really his best as far as plot twists and a bitter sweet tinge. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stefania | 8/8/2011

    " hated this book at first but grew to love it by the end!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wilde Sky | 7/23/2011

    " Very good - but takes some time to get into. The characters and plot get better as you go through the book so don't be put off by the first 20 to 40 pages. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Olivia | 7/20/2011

    " Language is wordy and overdone, story predictable and fantastic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carole | 5/21/2011

    " Hardy at his best. Loved the movie also from the library...very true to book. Ending is predictable but a true classic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Corri | 5/4/2011

    " Disagree with the people that thought Hardy's treatment of Bathsheba's character was sexist. Women make bad romantic decisions at times, and this doesn't necessarily mean they are weak. I thought the book was well written and enjoyed it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mandy | 5/2/2011

    " Have to read for English, hopefully I enjoy it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michele | 5/1/2011

    " Great read! Glad I gave Hardy another try after reading Tess of the Durbervilles. Wordy but worth it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heatherly | 4/22/2011

    " It has been a while since I finished this one. I can't figure out why Hardy wanted to put his female characters through so much strife. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pat | 4/18/2011

    " I think I love Thomas Hardy novels. Tess was good, but this one was even better! I'll definitely be looking for another one soon. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eddie | 4/13/2011

    " Gripping drama, pulse-racing dialogue and the biggest badass of them all...big up Gabriel Oak. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephanie | 4/4/2011

    " An interesting read. Took a little while for me to get into it and to even begin to like any of the characters. But eventually the story got more complicated, thus intriguing. I was fond of the ending as well. Glad I read it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Fluffy | 3/28/2011

    " We did this for Lit in sec sch. I found it rather long and ponderous at times - very lengthy descriptions that paint a good picture but takes a long time to read. Definitely a better Lit text than pleasure read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carmen | 10/25/2010

    " My favorite British novel of all time! Haunting, gorgeous, and unforgettable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Helen | 10/7/2010

    " One of my favourite books ever! I love the lead female character: powerful and willful unlike most female characters from books of that era. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maribeth | 8/9/2010

    " Holy crap, I loved this book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beatrice | 4/4/2010

    " Melodramatic and improbable but entertaining. "

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About the Author
Author Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), English poet, dramatist, and novelist, was born on the Egdon Heath in Dorset. He studied in Dorchester and apprenticed to an architect before leaving for London, where he began to write. Unable to find a public for his poetry, which idealized the rural life, he turned to the novel and met with success as well as controversy. The strong public reaction against some of his darker themes turned him back to writing verse. Today several of his novels are considered masterpieces of tragedy.

About the Narrator

John Lee has read more than 100 audiobooks. His work has garnered multiple Earphones Awards and won AudioFile‘s Best Voice in Fiction & Classics in both 2008 and 2009. He also narrates video games, does voice-over work, and writes plays. He is an accomplished stage actor and has written and co-produced the feature films Breathing Hard and Forfeit. He played Alydon in the 1963–64 Doctor Who serial The Daleks.