Every summer I read a classic that I have never read before, and since I'm planning to visit Southwest England soon, I felt I should read a novel that takes place there. Descriptively written, with romance and suspense, Hardy portrays Tess as a beautiful, young woman born in poverty with a title that ends up doing her more harm than good. Tess, at the start of her tale, is moral, hard-working and loving, and through no fault of her own, she is forced to face hardship and tragedy. Hardy demonstrates what can happen to an innocent, trusting girl in a man's world.
If you want a quick, light read, Tess of the d'Urbervilles is not it. However, if you're looking for a beautifully written novel that captures life in rural England about 150 years ago, give Tess a try.— Nancy Randall
Thomas Hardy's novel of seduction and abandonment introduced his most memorable tragic heroine, the unworldly maiden Tess. On her morning journey to earn money for her impoverished family, Tess' horse has an accident, forcing her to seek assistance from some newly rich relatives. There, she is vigorously pursued by Alec, who corners her in a field one night and takes advantage of her. After bearing a child who quickly dies, Tess meets and falls in love with Angel, a minister's son who is infatuated with the image of Tess as the pure country maid. But when he learns the truth of her past, he shuns his new bride and leaves Tess once again to fend for herself in a world where she is only valued for her uses to others.Explanatory Note to the First Edition of Tess of the D'Urbervilles: "In respect of the book's opinions and sentiments, I would ask any too genteel reader, who cannot endure to have said what everybody nowadays thinks and feels, to remember a well-worn sentence of St. Jerome's: If an offence come out of the truth, better is it that the offence come than that the truth be concealed."Thomas Hardy, November 1891.