I have written a few reviews for my all time favourite books when I have re-read them, either for pleasure or if they have come up as part of the reading group I take part in. I hope you don’t mind me sharing these reviews with you and if you have read them or go on to read them I would love to hear your opinions!
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.
‘But, some might say, where was Tess’s guardian angel? Where was the providence of her simple faith?’
I have always been a fan of Thomas Hardy and was pleased when Tess of the D’Urbervilles was chosen by the reading group I am part of. It had been many years since I last read it and I thoroughly enjoyed re-visiting this book.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a tragic tale about what happens to the heroine when her poor, lower class family discover they are descendants of an old, aristocratic family and she goes to seek assistance from who they believe is a family member. Her innocence and purity are stripped away and this affects the course of her life.
Written in the 19th century, Hardy caused outrage with this book due to his commentary on the Victorian class system and it’s inequalities, religion and Victorian morals which he saw as hypocritical and unfair.
A desperately sad story, we see Tess struggle against what life has thrown at her. It is made even more tragic as Tess is a pure and innocent girl with good morals. Hardy uses the concept of fate throughout leaving the reader to contemplate how much we can control what happens to us and how much is a predestined path which we are put upon following certain events and actions.
Hardy’s prose is stunning and the backdrop of the Wessex countryside is richly described and beautiful. His portrayal of the main characters have you changing your opinions of them throughout the book, swinging from liking them to despairing of them. Tess herself evokes empathy through the futility of her situation and the fact she is essentially a victim of the society she is a part of.
Quite rightly a literary classic, Tess of the D’Urbervilles takes you to the dubious ,moral centre and harshness of Victorian England. I would urge anyone who is interested in history to read this stunning book, however, have tissues ready as you will need them!
Published 30 January 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1891).
Review written 30 December 2015.