Melodramatic and gripping, but we're also now coming into Hardy's full powers – characters' lives are constrained by the boundaries and flaws of their personalities; Fate deals some heavy blows, and the Pathetic Fallacy (landscape and particularly weather echoing characters' emotions and experiences) for which Hardy is famous comes into play.

As Elfride falls in love with two very different men, and tries to manage her emotional life, we have more rounded characters, and the chorus of locals is more well integrated into the plot and throws light and shade onto it rather than being inserted and being a bit irritating. Some hilarious and nail-biting moments as well as some extremely charming ones. I very much enjoyed reading this – I think for the first time.

Reading it on the Kindle was a bit annoying, in that it's part of a collection, so I didn't know how far through the book I was: apparently, this matters to me!