‘Tis a pity to let such a girl throw herself away upon him – a thousand pities!’
When country-girl, Grace Melbury, returns home from her middle-class school, she feels she is now above her suitor, the simple woodsman Giles Winterborne. Though marriage has been discussed between her and Giles, Grace soon finds herself captivated by Dr Edred Fitzpiers, a sophisticated newcomer to the area – a relationship that is encouraged by her socially ambitious father. Hardy’s novel of betrayal, disillusionment and moral compromise depicts a secluded community coming to terms with the disastrous impact of outside influences. And in his portrayal of Giles Winterborne, Hardy shows a man who responds deeply to the forces of the natual world, which, ultimately, betray him.
In her introduction Patricia Ingham examines class and gender differences, the influence of Darwinism, Hardy’s use of language and the symbolism of nature in the novel. This edition also includes a chronology, a map of Hardy’s Wessex, a list for further reading, appendices and a glossary.