I really enjoyed this tragic story by Hardy! I definitely agree with those who say to skip the first 50 pages or so...losts of description of the heath that I cannot figure out how it was so important to the development of the story and characters. The description, itself, is poetic and thorough in its description, so if you are interested in that, you will love the first part of the book. I nearly quit reading, but plowed on because it is listed on one of the lists I have of the best 100 books of all-time. The development of the characters in the novel are fascinating. Descriptions of everything from the people to the locations are so well-done that it is easy to visualize the entire story and feel such a part of it.