Thomas Hardy’s tragic novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles is almost guaranteed to leave you depressed at society’s restraints only a couple of hundred of years ago. As Tess herself puts it, we live in a “blighted world”. A little slow in getting going, but once it got up steam it was a gripping read of how one act could ruin a life.
Another classic, more traditional than some of the books I’ve read recently (in particular The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, part of my 100 to read-as is this) and is a snapshot into life in England a few hundred years ago.
The plot for me was a little ruined by the blurb, which revealed a few of the major plot points. The book details a naïve and unexperienced country girl-Tess Durbeyfield-go to try and raise some money for her poor family from relations, and her ‘coming of age’-in a very dramatic way. Tess learns a lot which she wishes she could have known before, Hardy does not explicitly mention the name (spoiler alert) of what happens to her-rape-which confused me for a little.
I feel Hardy’s aim is to belittle the Victorian values, those that lead a woman to be despised and rejected by society by something so completely out of her control, something which today can lead to hefty sentences to the offender. Here, the victim became, to society, the offender. Hardy brilliantly conveys his disgust at man’s unashamed following of society’s rules, no matter what they are.
Though I thought Hardy weaved a brilliant narrative, it was a bit slow. I could have summarised the first 200 pages in a few sentences, Hardy seems to be reluctant to do anything interesting in the section. If you enjoy reading about how people lived, you will enjoy this section, but for me, it made me consider stopping reading it, something which I have only done once in memory.
All of a sudden however, Hardy got going, the plot became interesting, things happened-this changed the book completely, from a mock classic to an instant masterpiece, with a grand finale which I doubt I will ever forget.
Publishing house-Penguin books (mine, countless others published in addition)
Value for money-good Kindle price, as with all books out of copyright, and a good range of quality and prices-quite a long book, so prices found were on the reasonable side-★★★★
Character development-I felt for Tess’s situation, if not for her as a person, I could sense her radiating beauty but not connect with her. Her suitors are well done also, changes of heart being somewhat unbelievable sometimes (Brazil…) but otherwise good- ★★★★
Readability-vastly hindered by the drab opening third, there is no way that such a large uninteresting section can be rectified, no matter how good the writing after-which, incidentally, was magnificent-★★★
Overall-as I cannot say enough, too boring opening, rest a quality read-★★★★ (78)