The story takes place in a small woodland village called Little Hintock, and concerns the efforts of an honest woodsman, Giles Winterborne, to marry his childhood sweetheart, Grace Melbury. Although they have been informally betrothed for some time, her father has made financial sacrifices to give his adored only child a superior education and no longer considers Giles good enough for her. When the new doctor – a well-born and handsome young man named Edgar Fitzpiers – takes an interest in Grace, her father does all he can to make Grace forget Giles, and to encourage what he sees as a brilliant match. Grace has more awe than love for Fitzpiers, but marries him nonetheless. After the honeymoon, the couple take up residence in an unused wing of Melbury's house. Soon, however, Fitzpiers begins an affair with a rich widow named Mrs. Charmond, takes to treating Grace coldly, and finally deserts her one night after he accidentally reveals his true character to his father-in-law.
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Fabulous novel by Thomas Hardy. His writing is parallel by few and this story, as do most of his, takes the reader through many, unpredictable turns. Hardy shows us the reader the many aspects among people from the two distinct classes--always a great read.
The clever turn of the phrase is built into the most clever turn of the tale as Thomas Hardy always does, but this may well be his best. This could be made into a "Downton Abbey" like series because each chapter, something important and unexpected happens. Hard's character development is thorough, timeless understanding of the human condition, extremely fulfilling. His story development is tight but not predictable. I've recommended it to many friends and family, male and female, young and old--- such a pleasure to read- thoroughly engaging. Wish it could be made into a PBS series! It would lend itself to that perfectly.