Hardy's pastoral tragedy focuses on the community of Little Hintock and the turbulent emotions coursing through the daily lives of its inhabitants. Giles Winterborne and Grace Melbury, an affluent timber-merchant's daughter, are destined to marry from childhood. However, after leaving a fashionable boarding school, Grace's elevation in the world, along with Giles's misfortunes, cause their engagement to be broken off.
Although silently adored by his reclusive soul-mate Marty South, Giles continues to pine for the more refined and elegant Grace, but her head has been turned by the handsome new doctor Edred Fitzpiers. As they continue to follow their lonely courses, their lives become inextricably entwined.
In this poignant novel, which Hardy came to regard as his favourite story, ambition, passion and betrayal are worked out against the backcloth of a small rural community coming to terms with a fast changing world.
Now a motion picture starring Rufus Sewell and Emily Wood.