The innocent and naive Jude Fawley is trapped into marriage by the seductive Arabella Donn. But their union is an unhappy one, and Arabella leaves him. Jude's welcome freedom allows him to pursue his obsession with his pretty cousin, Sue Bridehead, a brilliant, charismatic freethinker who would be his ideal soul mate if not for her aversion to physical love. When Jude and Sue decide to lead their lives outside marriage, they bring down on themselves all the force of a repressive society.
This fearless and outspoken story caused a furor upon its publication.