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on 2 November 2016
I couldn’t bear to finish this book, as from the start you can see that terrible things are going to happen to Tess. I first read this book when I was still at school (so, in my late teens) and remember crying floods of tears over it. This time, from the beginning, you can see what is going to happen and I couldn’t bear it. All in all, I found his descriptions of nature beautiful, his descriptions of bygone agricultural processes fascinating and almost balletic, but couldn’t take Tess’s fate! Hardy may have been portraying the fate of working-class women of that era – and I hope that it aided their cause long-term (Tess was, indeed, a ‘pure woman’ - see the sub-heading), but I couldn’t really bear the negativity, the lack of long-term hope (ie the lack of an eternal hope).
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When Tess’s family fall on hard times, Tess is forced to go and see family she has never heard of before – the well off D’Ubervilles. On arriving she is met with Alec D’Uberville, the man who will be her downfall. After losing her child to illness, Tess receives employment as a milkmaid, and falls in love with Angel Clare, but will Tess be able to tell him about the dark past that she has so long kept secret? And if the truth is revealed, will Angel Clare still feel the same way?

I absolutely loved this book. I’m actually sad that I haven’t read it before. I read if for classes, but so many of my classmates had read it before, and I envied being able to read it without studying it. It’s such a beautiful book with such an immense plot. I kept having to put it down and come back to it, purely so I could give myself time to process what I’d read. Hardy has that ability to describe something in detail, pages covering the same thing, but it’s never repetitious and it’s never boring.

Tess of the D’Ubervilles is famous for being scandalous and shocking when it was first published, and I can see why. Though not really shocking to us now, I can imagine the horror at a story of women with a child out of marriage, and the idea of concealing that child from her suitor. Hardy certainly has a lot to say about social conventions and the way women were treated at that time.

I think Tess is a really fascinating character, she’s strong willed, stubborn and utterly loyal. She makes lots of mistakes throughout the story – and more often than not she pays the price for them. Her story is an immensely sad one. She is a survivor, continuing on even when her life seems the most hopeless.

No matter what I write about Tess of the D’Ubervilles, this review will be woefully understating how wonderful this novel is (but that’s not going to stop me trying!) The language in the novel is beautiful and poetic, and I loved the descriptions of nature. Tess is closely linked to nature throughout the plot – something I found particularly interesting. She is seen as almost part of nature herself, a pure, earthy country girl.

It’s a very bleak and depressing story, but it is definitely worth reading. This was my first outing in the novels of Thomas Hardy – although I am told The Mayor of Casterbridge is by far his best novel, I really enjoyed Tess of the D’Ubervilles and all its wonderful comments on society.
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on 24 July 2017
I do not mean to say here that "Thomas Hardy" is not worth reading but there are some books that are just "dull" especially from this time period and Thomas Hardy wrote many of them. Mr Hardy is a good writer, his descriptions and the way he incorporates them into his writings are just a little short (in my opinion) of the Bronte's. Many will disagree with me and that is fine but I am not a fan. Luckily he is a little better than Jane Austen whom I find to be dull beyond compare.
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on 19 March 2015
It was interesting to read this again, as I last read all the Thomas Hardy novels about forty years ago. The first one for me was a radio adaption of Far From the Madding Crowd and I was blown away by it. I loved the way Hardy describes his Wessex, a region I came to know and love over the years. I found that I still loved his writing style and his description of the countryside and its dwellers is really lovely, especially as I have walked a lot of this countryside and the feel of the landscape is spot-on. Published in 1892 the moral climate is very different to today and poor Tess is treated appallingly but that was how it was then. Looking at it from today's viewpoint I found myself slightly irritated with the characters, Tess should have been more forthright, Alec d'Urberville seemed like a pantomime baddie and Angel Clare was so weak spirited. But that's how we would see this today so it's not really a fair criticism. It's a great and tragic novel, beautifully observed and written, but as a reader you must remember when it was written.
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on 8 April 2017
Loved the story and description of the English countryside and the characters. Frustrating at times and I'd stop and scream at the author in my head at times as I thought Tess should have been given a break; for me too much going wrong for her. Gripping story; was hoping for a different ending but I knew it couldn't happen with Hardy. Loved the dialect used; challenged me at times as English isn't my first language.
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on 30 June 2016
I fell in love with Tess when I was young and foolish.

This will forever remain one of my favourite books of all time.

The theme of red that perpetuates like an omen through the book. The ribbon, the horse, the strawberries, cigarette tip; I found myself searching for it.

I re-read every now and again to relive my youth. I think of days where the mist blows early morning from the river and dust floats in the air, insects rise at dusk and innocent milk maids fall in love.
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on 10 December 2013
I know this book was written in a completely different time, but, good lord - this book was tough going. The story behind it is incredible. I adored the story - I thought it was emotive and enthralling and beautifully set out, but the storyTELLING was horrendous. What could easily have been spelt out with a few words was instead drawn on for pages and pages in a sea of complex and waffling metaphors, descriptions and such - painful. There were many times when I'd been reading for ages, and suddenly came to the conclusion that I had absolutely no idea what I'd just read, thus had to go back and retrace my steps. The descriptions are so warped that half the time you have no idea what exactly is being described, but, hey, it's a good story. And I would recommend it.
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on 12 February 2013
In a BBC poll for the nation's best loved novel, Tess came twenty sixth out of a hundred. On the basis of `best loved' this appraisal may be considered fairly won, and an indication that the novel is a rewarding and entertaining read. Originally presented in serial form with the need to hold his readers' attention in a long story while also building up to a climactic ending (and it's certainly climactic) Hardy creates plenty of suspense along the way in a series of seemingly insurmountable misfortunes that threaten to overwhelm his heroine. And she evokes our sympathy as she stoically struggles to surmount them.

With so many laudatory reviews here it seems superfluous to add more, save to say that this is one of Hardy's masterpieces; a treasure for readers who like a Victorian novel that unfolds seamlessly, and is replete with humour, pathos, poignancy, and drama, set against atmospheric descriptions of the beautiful Dorset landscape
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on 27 February 2017
This was a long story, or seemed so, and very sad. I kept hoping that Tess would be more careful and wary, and to get away to safety. Quite harrowing in its way. Hardy paints the county of Wessex so vividly, one is transported to the downs, lanes and fields in such a clear way, one can smell the grass, and hear the trickling brooks. Wonderful!
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on 8 October 2011
For some reason I never got round to reading this book as a young adult, but had watched the exquisite film Tess by Roman Polanski, which still remains one of my all time favourite films. Now I am of a certain age and it is near impossible to read any of the paperback classics because of the ridiculously small font! Then along comes the wonderful 'Kindle' where you can change the font to match your failing eyesight! So one of my first reads was Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and what a wonderful read it was! It never failed to keep me totally enthralled, the characters was life size and full of realism. The narrative is gripping, tragic and beautiful, but most people know that! Certainly the Polanski's film was true to the story and made me think higher of his achievement in creating the celluloid masterpiece! And, thank you for creating the Kindle!
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