Described by Hardy as a tale of "mystery, entanglement, surprise and moral obliquity", his first published novel violated the literary decorum of its day with blackmail, murder, and romance. It relates the story of Cytherea, a maid to the eccentric arch-intriguer Miss Aldclyffe, and the man she loves, Edward Springrove. Upon discovering that Edward is already engaged, Cytherea comes under the influence of Miss Aldclyffe's fascinating, manipulative steward, Manston. Published anonymously in 1871, Desperate Remedies already bears the unmistakable imprint of Hardy's genius.
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