It's about: The story of a socially mobile, head-strong, independent, capricious woman, Bathsheba, who declares that she will run and work her own farm and refuses to become a man's "property" by getting married. A strong female character, Bathsheba still has her downfall -- she happens to be very beautiful. Throughout the course of the novel, three men fall in love with her, but will the stubborn and willful Bathsheba ever settle down and choose one of them?
I thought: Especially after reading the rather slow-moving Middlemarch, I was very impressed with Thomas Hardy's ability to weave a plot that remains interesting for the reader. Hardy is a talented storyteller with a knack for creating relate-able, real characters -- the passionate, the calm, the indifferent, and the hilarious. Though despite the description, this is not a love story -- at least, not the way you've read them. It's an in-depth examination of the lower classes during Hardy's time and the reasons we should -- or shouldn't -- marry. For such a serious topic by such a stereotypically serious author, it was also surprisingly funny and, for the most part, a lighter read than I was expecting.
Verdict: Stick it on the shelf!
Reading Recommendations: Don't shy away from this one just because it's a "classic" or just because it deals with marriage. Like I said, it's more of an examination of the lower class culture than a love story. So don't discount it!
Warnings: One of the benefits of reading a "classic" is there is very little to fear in terms of language, sexuality, or content.