19th century woman kissing soldier in red coat
Movie poster for “Far From the Madding Crowd” Fox Searchlight Pictures (2015) Source:

As is our quasi-religious tradition, my mom frequently sends me emailed articles from the New York Times. This morning, in an email about old-school oscillating exercise machines, there was an attached NYTimes ad (see image above) for the new film based on Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd

It may be the lack of sleep and over-caffeination hangover of this crazy moving week, but my heart gave a leap when I saw the ad. Could this movie poster be an omen?

Aside from being notable as the only Thomas Hardy novel with a happy ending (literature people, can you confirm?), Far from the Madding Crowd is about a beautiful lady farmer named Bathsheba who has adventures as various suitors seek her hand in marriage. They are also seeking her very nice farm. (Farmer! Bathsheba! Suitors!) There are charming depictions of sheep and haystacks (which are slightly less charming when they’re running over cliffs or being on fire.)

As an occasional farmer (sort of) named Bathsheba, I, too, would like to entertain suitors for my hand! (Suitors for dates over coffee would also be okay.) To be fair though, two out of the three suitors in the novel were terrible. The guy Bathsheba ends up with – solid, reliable Gabriel Oak- may not be flashy, but he’s definitely the best boyfriend material. He’s also handy with a pitchfork and a trocar.

At Isabella Freedman, my housemates and I had a running joke about my proper acquisition of suitors. Suitors, not hookups. Developing an OkCupid profile was a whole-house project, created around the kitchen table. (One of the proposed user-names, “Batsheva-in-search-of-Man,” was deemed hilarious for its reference to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s “God in Search of Man,” but I decided not to use it lest people take it too literally.)

I first read Far from the Madding Crowd as a freshling in college. Though not for a literature course. I read it because one of the other students in my astronomy lab recommended I read it when she learned my name. “Oh, there’s a book with a heroine named Bathsheba!” I found a paperback copy in a used bookstore near campus and it was my bedtime book for the rest of the semester. I still haven’t seen the classic Julie Christie film version (1967), but I’m seriously thinking about taking myself to the local art theater to see this new release in a few weeks. Maybe I can be a fangirl and camp outside for a midnight showing, and bring along one of my nephew’s stuffed lamb toys.

Tangents for this post:
“Far from the madding crowd” is a line taken from Thomas Gray’s “Elegy written in a Country Churchyard”
Online dating for farmers:


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