Described by Hardy as a tale of “mystery, entanglement, surprise and moral obliquity”, his first published novel violated the literary decorum of its day with blackmail, murder, and romance. It relates the story of Cytherea, a maid to the eccentric arch-intriguer Miss Aldclyffe, and the man she loves, Edward Springrove. Upon discovering that Edward is already engaged, Cytherea comes under the influence of Miss Aldclyffe’s fascinating, manipulative steward, Manston.
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