This never gets rated as one of Hardy's 'great' novels (Tess, Jude, Native, Crowd) but it's always been my favourite. Something about the characters and their interactions just speaks to me.
As it is Hardy, expect melodrama, coicidences, and gut-wrenching emotions, but unlike so many books written today this is packed full of real characters, real emotion and a real plot.
If you've never read Hardy before, this probably isn't an ideal place to start (try Tess, or for a lighter Hardy Far from the Madding Crowd), but then come back to this. I have read and re-read repeatedly and still cry - a sign of a superlative writer and story-teller.