Thomas Hardy's moving story of star-crossed lovers shows human beings at the mercy of forces beyond their control, setting a tragic drama of human passion against a backdrop of space and scientific discovery.
Unhappily married, Lady Constantine defies social standards when she falls in love with the youthful and socially inferior Swithin St. Cleeve. In an ancient monument converted into an astronomical observatory, they isolate themselves from society and create their own private universe - until the pressures of the outside world threaten to tear them apart.
It may be difficult for a contemporary person to be patient with the timid outlook of the main female character, but in Hardy's time, 'proper' women really were that constrained by society, unless they had vast personal wealth under their own personal control.
The choices for others were submit, the street, or suicide.
Hardy may not have been the most skillful literary light. but his was a great and empathetic heart. His insight into the nuances of emotion, reason, and relationships are an education to his readers. Wish he had a sense of humor, but then, I read Trollope for that....