Books Magazine

Books I Should Have Read Sooner: Tess of the D’Urbervilles

By Crossstitchyourheart @TMNienaber

9307653I am about 70% sure I am named after Tess Durbeyfield.  You see, this was my mom’s favorite movie back when the 1970-something version was released.  She loves it.  And she loves Tess (and hates “that one guy” “Alec or Angel?” “her husband” “which one?” “the terrible one” “which one?” <– best synopsis of the book you will ever read).  6336039Now, while she might insist I was named after Mother Teresa, I have my doubts.  While that’s a much nobler name sake, I feel, subconsciously, my mother named me after one of the last descendants of the long line of D’Urbervilles.  And  I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Thomas Hardy’s novel follows the poor soul Tess, Tess who fortune has decide to screw with in as many ways possible and never give a break.  Is it fate?  Is it nature? Is it God? Is it sin?  Well, that’s up to the reader to decide.  Tess is a likable enough character, a little on the naïve side, a little on the weak side.  She’s not quite as timid as Jane Eyre and not quite as witty as Elizabeth Bennet. In fact, her personality is almost nonexistent.   She is a child of nature living in a world of strict social morals.  And, apparently, these two things are incompatible.  At least that’s my interpretation.

Some people might say it’s just a love story.

But if that’s how you chose to read this particular novel you will be bored.  Out of your mind.  If all Hardy was trying to do was write a love story, he hasn’t done a very good job.  For those of you trying to decide if this book is going to take up your time, here’s the plot in a nut shell.  Tess Durbyfield is a country girl whose father discovers they are descendants of the ancient D’Urbervilles, so they send Tess out to make their fortune and snag a rich husband.  Plan goes terrible wrong (no spoilers) Tess winds up at a dairy farm, meets the love of her life, and things just get worse from there.

The story is unbelievable and melodramatic, but there are so many things going on under the surface of the text that it balances out.  I enjoyed the book (not crazy about the movie) and even at 330+ pages it’s not a slow read (compared to other Victorian era novels).  If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of the fabulous world of Victorian lit or just want to get started on some classics, this is one that isn’t too much to tackle.

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