Far from the Madding Crowd is Thomas Hardy's fourth novel. It centers on the lives of five characters: Gabriel Oak, Bathsheba Everdene, Mr Boldwood, Sgt. Troy, and Fanny Robin. The plot involves love, loyalty, death, and betrayal, and all this is delivered to us in Hardy's most eloquent prose. The images of character and nature are painted for our mind's eye with sublime style.
The Return of the Native (1878) is one of Hardy's most popular novels. Set on the brooding Egdon heath, it traces the lives and loves of five people. Clym Yeobright, the native, returns to Egdon from a successful career in Paris to pursue a dream of educating the poorer local people. Eustacia Vye, a young woman unhappy with life on Egdon, wishes for love and life in a city. Damon Wildeve, an innkeeper and ex-engineer, is a young womanizer. Thomasin Yeobright, a cousin of Clym, is a simple country girl. And finally, the mysterious but faithful reddleman, Diggory Venn. When the lives of these people become intertwined, we see all sides of human nature - good and bad.