Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

We’re back with a book review from Louise today, I’ll let her explain why she is reviewing this book. Thanks Louise!

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‘‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ – Thomas Hardy

 Rating: 4/5

This is a classic novel, set in the 1880’s, which tells the story of Tess Durbeyfield. Tess is the daughter of a poor, ailing villager who learns that she may be descended from the bygone family of d’Urberville, and in her search for virtue her luck alternates greatly. It explores her up-and-down relationships with two very different men, whilst she battles against the stone-set morals of Britain’s rural villages and goes on an emotional journey far lengthier than her travels across Hardy’s Wessex; and this all adopts the proportions of a Greek tragedy.

I am required to study Tess for my AS-level English course, so when I first read the plot, I readied myself for a long, long year. However, after I had read the first few pages it became clear that even though the novel was lengthy, it would by no means be boring. Within the first ‘phase’ alone, there was romance, drama and death. This was why I loved the book; it was so unexpected, with drama at the turn of every page, and even though it was published in 1891, the morals of the story seemed so modern, and so true to our current society. Tess is a very emotional girl, and her troubles cause her to become very depressed, verging on suicidal, and it is this vulnerability that causes us, and various men, to fall in love with her; that, and her vividly described beauty. In fact, Hardy has packed the novel full of elaborate descriptions of the surrounding environment, and this really helps to set the scene and place us into the story. However, the language is very old-fashioned, and even though there is a dictionary in the back pages filled with over 200 entries, I still found myself incredibly confused and lost at times. The truth is, even though I wouldn’t have read this novel voluntarily, I am so glad that I did; the depth of the story allowed me to get entirely engrossed, and the jaw-dropping final chapters actually triggered a physical reaction, they were that brilliant! Overall, even though it is a complicated and slow read, the time is so worth it.’

Click here for your own copy of Tess

7 thoughts on “Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

  1. Wow! If this doesn’t get me back into reading classics…great review! I haven’t read Tess, though I love Hardy’s poetry, and read Far from the Madding Crowd for my own A Levels years ago. I especially loved the way you shared how great the final chapters were!

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  2. A great review for a book that I had very mixed feelings on. Like Louise said, it’s worth reading, but it is very distressing. I found those last chapters that you were talking about so “jaw-dropping” because you get a sense that Hardy doesn’t actually want anything bad to happen to his characters, it just seems to happen of its own accord.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts on this classic!

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