Title: Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Author: Thomas Hardy
Published: My edition: 7 April 2011. First published some time in 1884
Length : 464 pages
Warnings: references to rape, child outside wedlock,
Other info: Thomas Hardy has written a lot more books. Click here for details. According to Goodreads, there’s 364 editions of this book. I read this because its an Orange Inheritance title, chosen in 2011. Couldnt make this review spoiler free, highlight over the blocks of text to reveal spoilers.
Summary (from back of book, the part that’s relevant) :Tess is an innocent young girl until the day she goes to visit her rich ‘relatives’, the D’Urbervilles. Her encounter with her manipulative cousin, Alec, leads her onto a path that is beset with suffering and betrayal. When she falls in love with another man, Angel Clare, Tess sees a potential escape from her past, but only if she can tell him her shameful secret…
Review: Nothing seemed to happen in chapter 1. Ok, a major thing happens; it’s what sets off the whole chain of events, but still. It just seemed like a plain description, and to start with it’s hard to get into.
The first point I felt really strongly is at Tess’s rape. As a girl in 2011, I just thought the way Alec treated Tess was horrible. Because it was. I also got a bit sad when Sorrow, the child, gets buried.
I don’t think Tess’s days as a milk-maid really needed to go into that much detail. I get that they’re the best days of her life and that she properly meets Angel, the guy who marries her them runs off, but apart from that, nothing really interesting happens and it dragged on a bit too long.
I stopped liking Angel when he left Tess just because she had sex before marriage. Even though he'd done it too, whilst drunk. Tess wasn’t even consenting. The hypocrite. I started liking him a little more when he went looking for her at the end though. I think Tess is perfectly justified in sending him away after all he put her through.
I know not everyone shares the same sense of humour as me, but I laughed a lot at Mrs Brooks' reaction to finding Alec's body. I think Tess was justified a little in what she did, as it is Alec's fault her marriage came undone and her whole life went down the drain.
I like Tess a lot. She’s feisty, and stands up for herself, which of course ends up in murder.
Even before he raped her, I never liked Alec. I didn’t like his personality and I liked him even less after he raped Tess. His death was pretty satisfying.
Angel, at times I liked him, at times I didn’t. I’ve already gone through that. I ended up liking him and the way he supported Tess after she killed Alec.
I still don’t get what it is with the Queens of Diamonds and Spades. I get that they’re names for some other girls, but I don’t see how they fit in after when they’re brought in at the start of the book.
Also, I'm not sure whether it’s because of Hardy failing to explain it, or just my really bad geography skills, but I didn’t realise until they reached the place that the book is set somewhere near Stonehenge.
The descriptions get better as the book goes on. They’re very long, which gives a clear image of what happens. The plot and the pace- at times it was extremely boring and nothing really happened, while at other times, there was a lot going on that made me really want to read on.
Overall: I give this strength 4 tea because it was a really interesting story and much better than I thought it would be.