In the title story, Car'line Aspent, bewitched and seduced by the dazzling fiddler, Mop Ollamoor, rejects her loyal suitor Ned only to repent her decision and seek him out years later. The ten other stories share the theme of love, but they are more than simple love stories.
Written with Hardy's customary compassion for ordinary women and his sharp sense of irony, they tell of romantic disasters, betrayals, misunderstandings and cruelties. And, as in Hardy's novels, it is frequently the women who fall in love unwisely, in defiance of their class, their expectations of their family loyalties, and suffer for their impulsiveness.
This new selection of stories written between 1888 and 1900 contains full notes; an introduction relating the stories to Hardy's major novels; a note on the history of the texts;' and appendices on the development of the short-story collections, Hardy's imaginative use of history and the illustrations.