Far from the Madding Crowd is Thomas Hardy’s fourth novel and his first major literary success.
Gabriel Oak is a young shepherd. He falls in love with Bathsheba Everdene, a proud beauty. She comes to like him well enough, but when he makes her an unadorned offer of marriage, she refuses. After a few months, she moves off. When next they meet, their circumstances have changed drastically. Gabriel is ruined. He seeks employment at a work fair in the town of Casterbridge. When he finds none, he heads to another fair. On the way, he happens upon a dangerous fire on a farm and helps in putting it out. When the veiled owner comes to thank him, he asks if she needs a shepherd. She uncovers her face and reveals herself to be none other than Bathsheba.