Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Tess Durbeyfield is the oldest daughter of a ne'er do well peasant farmer in Victorian England. Her father discovers he is an heir of an old, rich family, the d'Urbervilles. He feels life owes him something for his family's misfortunes. Tess' mother knows where one d'Urbervilles family still lives, and sends Tess to them. Tess is no more than 16 or 17, but looks much older.
At Mrs. d'Urbervilles, Tess meets the first important man in her life. Within 6 months she returns home, a wiser young lady than when she left. She hid away at her parents' home for a year or two. She finally gains courage to face the world again and leaves to work at a dairy farm. There she meets the second important man in her life. In less than a year she returns home again, much sadder than when she left.
Tess doesn't stay home this time. She stays a few days, then ventures out to make her own way in Victorian England until she can untangle the relationships she has undertaken in the past few years. The innocent girl from a few years earlier is gone, leaving an innocent, sad woman behind. When the men reappear into her life, she finally can take no more.
Before I was half way through I was yelling at the characters - vocally, not just in my head. An excellent book doesn't have to make you feel good at the end, it just has to make you feel. At first I thought perhaps my 20th to 21st century viewpoint was the problem. I finally realized Hardy was showing the reader how ridiculous the straight laced morals of the time were. With different attitudes, Tess would not have undergone many of the hardships she had to bear before she finally found happiness.
The reader, or at least me, gets involved in this book. Tess' plight is overwhelming at times. This is an excellent book.
|You might also like:
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
Book Rating System