Helen Fielding's Bookshelf
By Thomas Hardy
The story is not so much a love triangle as a love square. The heroine, Bathsheba Everdene, finds herself in charge of running a sheep farm, and she faces a choice between three types of men that most women will recognize: the sexy bounder, the match whom you don't particularly fancy, and the good man who's the one you should go for in the end. Hardy's novels always give a wonderful sense of landscape—great shoulders of heath cliffs and farmland—and of rural English life in the 19th century. But the fact that Bathsheba is a woman doing a man's job gives the book a surprisingly modern sensibility. And the theme—learning that sexual infatuation is not the stuff of which lifetime partnerships are made—is timeless.