This was the first of Thomas Hardy’s novels to give the name of Wessex to the landscape of south-west England and is set against the backdrop of the unchanging natural cycle of the year. The story both upholds and questions rural values with a startlingly modern sensibility. Gabriel Oak is only one of three suitors for the hand of the beautiful and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. He must compete with the dashing young soldier Sergeant Troy and respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. And while their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she discovers the terrible consequences of an inconstant heart.