The Woodlanders

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Hardy described the theme of THE WOODLANDERS as 'the immortal puzzle -given the man and woman, how to find a basis for their sexual relation'. Set in the familiar Dorset landscape, this time on the wooded outskirts of Blackmoor Vale, it tells the story of two women who love the same man. The elegant Grace Melbury and homelier Marty South compete for the attention of Giles Winterbourne, but both are doomed to disappointment. Written in 1887, shortly before TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES, THE WOODLANDERS has none of that novel's fierce cruelty. Though often sad, it is also lyrical and gentle, drawing the complexities of female desires with a notably subtle hand. This is one of Hardy's most accomplished mature novels, with a fine finish he did not always achieve, and it was among his own favourites. The Everyman edition is published to coincide with the launch of the Channel 4 Film starring Rufus Sewell, Polly Walker, Tony Haygarth and Emily Woolfe, directed by Phil Agland.