The Story In Brief Eustacia Vye, a nineteen-year-old, sultry beauty, has one compelling desire: to marry a man worthy of her and to travel to exotic distant lands with him as her cavalier. Living on Egdon Heath, she has only one possible candidate: Damon Wildeve, keeper of the village inn, a former civil engineer who somehow failed in his profession. Wildeve and Eustacia Vye have equally uncurbed passionate natures. They seem to thrive on tormenting each other-now passionately loving, now passionately hating. Wildeve, however, has a roving eye which has been caught by the innocent simplicity of Thomasin Yeobright. She is not one to be trifled with, and he has asked her to marry him; but at church on the wedding day, whether by his intent, or by his mistake, the license proves invalid. Eustacia is overjoyed at the news, thinking Wildeve is so much in love with her that he cannot marry another.
Thomasin Yeobright, however, has a protector, Diggory Venn. Diggory is in love with Thomasin. He has earlier proposed to her but has been gently refused. Diggory determines that she shall have the man she wants. He and Mrs. Yeobright, Thomasin's aunt, contrive separately and together, to bring about the delayed wedding.
Eustacia, confronted with an actual proposal of marriage from Wildeve, cannot bring herself to believe him good enough for her; neither can she bring herself to accept what she considers second place, since Thomasin received his first proposal of marriage.
The arrival of Clym Yeobright, Mrs. Yeobright's son, stirs Eustacia's spirit of adventure. Clym's business is in Paris. Bright lights glitter in Eustacia's mind. Clym is well-educated and well-to-do; he is her knight-in -armor come to rescue her; Thomasin, his earlier sweetheart, must not get him. Eustacia joins the schemers to bring...