Jocelyn Pierston, a successful sculptor, is helpless in the face of "the well-beloved": the manifestation of perfect womanhood that seems to move like a will-o'-the-wisp from one acquaintance to the next. It shapes his whole life. Where his artistry involves permanence - cold stone objects - his heart is caught by ephemeral beauty. After years spent in London, a return to his rocky birthplace, the Isle of Slingers, sparks Pierston's extraordinary involvement with three generations of the Caro family.
As a reworking of his earlier The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved, it is the last novel that Hardy wrote, in 1897 - not a realist work, but instead a rather fantastical exploration of male desire.
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