On a street in Dorchester, England, there is a gateway between real and imagined lives. A plaque identifies a Barclays Bank building as “lived in by the Mayor of Casterbridge in Thomas Hardy’s story of that name written in 1885.”
In this imaginative novel, worlds continue to collide as Floyd, an American writer recovering from a devastating neuro-viral attack, and his wife, Beverly, immerse themselves in Hardy’s world. While pondering the enigma of a fictional character living in a factual building, Floyd is approached by Hardy himself—despite his death in 1928.
This phantom—possibly conjured out of Floyd’s damaged brain—tasks the Americans with finding out what Hardy missed in love. Embarking on their quest, they visit Hardy’s birthplace, home, and grave, exploring the Dorset landscape and the famous novels with their themes of tormented love. Peering into the Victorian past, they slowly dismantle the clutter of screens that Hardy placed around his private life, even as their own love story unfolds, filled with healing and hope.