Very early Thomas Hardy. It's interesting most to see Hardy's progression as a writer. It concentrates on the life in a rural village focused on a choir and on a courtship between a member of the choir and the village school mistress.
It is without the relentless bleakness of Hardy's later work and is in many ways a pastoral. However, you can see Hardy's skill with language and teling details, but his deep immersion into the characters heads is not there and it lacks the dramatic events of the later works.
Well worth reading, and obviously much lighter than what is to come, but until I read it, I had not understood quite how much Hardy's view darkened and how much his insights into the psychology of people grew.