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The daughter of a Welsh gypsy and a crazy bee-keeper, Hazel Woodus is happiest living in her forest cottage in the remote Shropshire hills, at one with the winds and seasons, protector and friend of the wild animals she loves. But Hazel's beauty and incence prove irresistible to the men in her orbit. Both Jack Reddin, the local squire and Edward Marston, the gentle minister, offer her human -- and carnal -- love. Hazel's fate unfolds as simply and relentlessly as a Greek tragedy as a child of nature is drawn into a world of mortal passion in which she must eternally be a stranger.
Mary Webb, poet, mystic and lover of nature, spent most of her life in Shropshire, which features in all of her novels. Admiring contemporaries described Webb as a 'strange genius' and 'one of the best living writers'. After a life of illness and near-poverty, Mary Webb died in 1927.