Tess of the d’Urbervilles – T.Hardy

28 Oct

This is one of those books [along with Lorna Doone, Jamaca Inn, Mill On the Floss, etc] that a reader feels they should read, I can recall them being on suggested reading lists at school when we had book reports to do as term homework.  This digitised form from the original was soon winged to my Kindle for my delights.  How glad I am to have read it now and not when I was a teen, the language alone would have bewildered me.

Tess Durbeyfield is the eldest daughter of an impoverished man who in passing discovers he is the descendant from the extinct nobled family of d’Urberville’s and is referred to as Sir John, but the drunken poverty and hand to mouth existence in rural wessex barely keeps his roof leak free.  Tess is sent on a path to find an ancestor in a hope that some good fortune may come their way, whether by association or marriage.  The story really highlights the utter hypocracy of the self righteous rigidity of the social morality at that time.  A man can chase, woe, seduce or take any woman he wishes and is seen as a strong man, a manly protective fellow, but if a woman is chased, seduced and/or taken before that band of gold is on her finger she is branded for life as wicked, immoral and a blght upon the character of any man who subsequently takes to her; and that it was her fault for causing the men to do so to her.

Wronged by a man who she innocently trusted, and thrown into heart wrenching tragedy, she seeks solace, an escape somewhere where she is not known, in hard work.  Here she happens upon a better man who quickly adores her and in gentlemanly fashion courts her, she finding herself in the midst of true love relents to marry him, fretful and fearful what her past secrets would do to this pure delicate emotion.  Her salvation is hard lived, and a mix of misunderstandings, pride, undeservedness part them and the hardest of labours eek out a dire existence for Tess.  Things get worse when the fearful figure from her past reappears and twists her mind, wears down her resolve and convinces her of things he has no knowledge of.  The climax is ultimate and leaves the reader in reflection of what might have been, if only …..

The pace of the book was even until the last three or four chapters which seemed hasty, almost as if Hardy was not sure how the book would end but when he decided hurried to get there, maybe there was a publishers deadline.  Several times I felt myself wanting to scream at the focused character “Just say …..”, but as with other works, pride, fear, conventionality gag the person from speaking the truth and makes for gripping reading.


Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Books, Review



4 responses to “Tess of the d’Urbervilles – T.Hardy

  1. gillyk

    October 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Hardy was brave for his time, tackling issues in his books that were not considered ‘acceptable’ socially. Do you like poetry? I love some of his!


    • amgroves

      October 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      I do have an anthology collection of English Poetry but I struggle with it. I cannot get as ‘in’ with a poem as I can with a book. I do wish I had the type of brain that remembered poems and quotes, I am always envious of that skill.


  2. foxhat

    October 28, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    We had to do Jude the Obscure for A level

    I identified a lot with Jude. A rural Oxfordshire lad from a working class family setting his sights on the University but being rejected.

    Both Tess and Jude are sad and sometimes harrowing stories. Gripping as you say and I must admit that the film adaptations of Tess I have seen also seem to be rushed at the end with very little detail. Maybe he was keen to move on to his next project?


    • amgroves

      October 30, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Yes those last two or three chapters have so much going on, in a totally different pace to the rest of the book. Okay I admit I was half expecting a duel with Alec loosing and Angel & Tess sailing off in the sunset, but the actual ending did feel very rushed and sudden.



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