Book Review: Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy


Title: Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Author: Thomas Hardy

Published: 1891

Pages: 518

Genre: Fiction – Classics

Format: Book borrowed from the library

My rating:  3/5


When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future.”

So. Much. Drama. This classic spans quite a few years of Tess’ life and what a series of unfortunate events and interesting choices for her and her family. At some points, I couldn’t tell if I felt sorry for her or what – it really is a tragic love story. Watching Fifty Shades of Grey, there were several references to the story. “Why did you tell me there was danger? Why didn’t you warn me? Ladies know what to guard against because they read novels that tell them of these tricks.” – when Grey gives Ana the first edition by Thomas Hardy. Of course any literary reference I intend to follow up with. 🙂

Wanting to know what about Hardy made Ana fall in love with literature, I struggled to read through with high engagement levels. The details of the story were abundant and provided a stunning vision of the English countryside, however repeated throughout. I appreciated some of the witty banter and flirting that occurred back in the 1800s. I wondered how this would look in present day – sending the eldest child to earn work from distant family, being shunned for a baby passing through a cousin’s indiscretion, and then being separated from a day-old marriage because of that truth being revealed. Communication would certainly look different! Some of the choices Tess made was asking for trouble closer to the end of the story, really emphasizing what we will do for love.

As Hardy is lumped within the classics of his time, I will give Hardy another try with Far From The Madding Crowd as I have read numerous Austens and Brontës.

Read Tess of the D’Urbervilles if you like the themes of:

  • Family
  • Sacrifice
  • Romance
  • Morals

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