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The Mayor of Casterbridge

The Mayor of Casterbridge is a novel by English author Thomas Hardy.

It is set in the fictional town of Casterbridge (based on the town of Dorchester in Dorset). The Mayor of Casterbridge, successful grain merchant Michael Henchard, is reunited with Susan, the wife he gave away at a country fair when drunk. The return of his wife and daughter sets in motion a decline in his fortunes. The daughter, Elizabeth Jane, soon falls in love with Donald Farfrae, whom Henchard has employed as an assistant. Until his wife's death, Henchard is unaware that Elizabeth Jane is not his own child, but that of the man who "bought" Susan from him. He conceals the secret from her. His growing resentment of Donald Farfrae leads to his standing in the way of a marriage between Donald and Elizabeth Jane. In the meantime, Henchard's former mistress, Lucetta, arrives in town, and attracts Donald, who marries her. Rumours spread of her previous relationship with Michael Henchard, and both are disgraced. Lucetta dies. When Newsome, Elizabeth Jane's real father, returns, Henchard, afraid of losing her companionship, pretends she is dead. By the time Elizabeth Jane, now married to Donald Farfrae and reunited with Newsome, goes looking for Henchard to forgive him, he has died.

The work can be downloaded over the Internet without charge from Project Gutenberg as either text or a computer-generated audiobook. (ISBN 0375760067)