Unusually for Thomas Hardy he set this novel in the past, in the early years of the 19th century when people feared invasion by Napoleon's French armies. Also unusually for Thomas Hardy it is a happy and, at times, even humorous work; more comparable to 'Under the Greenwood Tree' than to the dark novels of his later years. It is set around a water mill in the country just north of Budmouth (Weymouth) and the background description adds greatly to the enjoyment. Being a Yorkshireman I was particularly drawn to the miserly Squire Derriman who, at one point, wears a coat taken off a scarecrow lest he should appear too well-to-do! Well worth reading both for the story itself and also for all the detail of life at that time that is described. For any student having to read one of Hardy's tragic novels as a set book this would make a good antidote to show a different aspect of his work. This free edition is not navigable to chapters so it might be worth looking at one of the ebook compilations of Hardy's complete works that are available. They only cost a couple of pounds and are often navigable to individual stories, chapters and poems.