Set in Egdon Heath, a wild tract of country in the southwest of England, this is a masterpiece of dramatic tension. Clym Yeobright, a diamond merchant in Paris, returns to his home in Egdon, where he falls passionately in love with the sensuous, free-spirited Eustacia Vye. She, while in a brief state of infatuation, marries him, hoping he will take her away to a more exciting life in Paris. But Eustacia's dreams of escape are not to be realized. Clym Yeobright, the returning native, can not bring her salvation.
In The Return of the Native there is a strong conflict between nature or fate, represented by Egdon Heath, and human nature, represented by Hardy's true-to-life characters. This is a novel that perfectly epitomizes Thomas Hardy's unique and melancholy genius.
Injured by forces beyond their control, Hardy's characters struggle vainly in the net of destiny. In the end, only the face of the lonely heath remains untouched by fate in this masterpiece of tragic passion.