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The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

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Published in 1886, the protagonist, Michael Henchard, is a haytrusser who one day gets so drunk that he auctions off his wife and child for five guineas to a sailor. When sober, he realizes his mistake and vows not to touch liquor. Over the years, his hard work pays off, he becomes rich and eventually even the mayor of Casterbridge. Eighteen years after being sold off, his wife returns, with a daughter who, she persuades Henchard to believe, is his. Meanwhile, Henchard quarrels with his assistant Farfrae who then proceeds to possess, piece by piece, everything that belonged to Henchard.

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