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Tess of the D'Urbervilles

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  171,990 Ratings  ·  6,174 Reviews
Young Tess Durbeyfield attempts to restore her family's fortunes by claiming their connection with the aristocratic d'Urbervilles. But Alec d'Urberville is a rich wastrel who seduces her and makes her life miserable. When Tess meets Angel Clare, she is offered true love and happiness, but her past catches up with her and she faces an agonizing moral choice.
Hardy's indictm
Kindle Edition, 492 pages
Published (first published 1891)
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Walid M Rihane Well, to start with, the book is a tragedy. Secondly, Hardy uses the tragic style to critcise the Victorian society through a female character. So I…moreWell, to start with, the book is a tragedy. Secondly, Hardy uses the tragic style to critcise the Victorian society through a female character. So I think Tragedy was the best way to highlight the flaws in the Victorian society rather than using a "happy" one.

Hope this answered your question(less)
Dave Recall the mare that pulled the carriage in which Alec took Tess to Tantridge. Alec had a need to master the wild mare even at risk of killing himself…moreRecall the mare that pulled the carriage in which Alec took Tess to Tantridge. Alec had a need to master the wild mare even at risk of killing himself trying. Hardy describes the undulating form of the mare alluding that Alec's passion in mastery there's a sexual element.

Later in the novel Alec cunningly takes possession of Tess' body, but Tess never surrenders her spirit to him. Regardless of how much he demanded of her and how he tormented her with his attentions, she kept her spirit removed from him. Hardy describes her ability to separate her body and spirit at the Talbothays communal meal table. When Angel returns to her near the novel's end he says he found her spirit adrift from her body. The separation of her body and spirit was obviously driving her insane, but by this time Tess had an evident death wish. (less)
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Community Reviews

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This is mostly just a note for me-- I wrote it as I finished the book, and it definitely gives away the ending, but I wanted to post it here because I decided this would be a good place for me to keep track of my thoughts.
I just finished reading Tess of the D'urbervilles, and I have to say I'm a little disappointed. Maybe disappointed is not the right word... but it's more than just bummed about the sad parts of the plot. Of course, I am sad about the way the story en
Dec 30, 2011 karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: littry-fiction
there will probably be spoilers here. i will possibly rant. if you don't know what happens in tess, it is better not to read this review, although, frankly, to my way of thinking, hardy has so many superior novels, stories, poems, that you would be better served just avoiding this one and going on to one of the great ones like jude or mayor of casterbridge instead. but there is something sneaking up in me - a bubblingly vague feeling of well-wishing for poor doomed tess, that makes me think i mi ...more
S.A. Parham
Aug 13, 2007 S.A. Parham rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
A few people noted that Hardy is a bit of a hard read, and that turned out to be true. His style is jagged and choppy, bouncing around quite a bit, and never giving you a true glimpse of some scenes important to know how to interpret (such as the question of Tess' seduction or rape by Alec d'Urberville). However, overall, it is an interesting story at least and I enjoyed the book. But considering the ending seemed to be rather ill-fitting to the rest of the tale, I'll have to pass on giving it a ...more
Sep 10, 2007 Cori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of classic literature
From my blog:

This book was fantastic. It was bleak and heartbreaking, but fantastic. I'm not sure I've ever been so sad for a main character before. But wow, Hardy can write. I'm going to outline the plot, including the ending, so please note that there are SPOILERS AHEAD.

Tess Durbeyfield, a poor girl, finds out she's actually the descendant of the once-mighty D'Urbervilles. She goes in search of work at her relatives' home, and meets Alec D'Urberville (no actual relation -- he stole the name),
I hated this passionately, which is perhaps unfair, as the book is really quite admirable for tackling the subject of double standards applied to male and female sexual behaviour. But this is one of the most depressing, pointless novels I’ve ever read in my life. I have loathed this book for ten years and I will not stop.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Tess Durbeyfield is the eldest daughter of well-meaning but irresponsible working-class parents. Innocent, poor but hard-working, she lets her mother persuade her to go to the home of a d'Urbeville - thought to be a relative, with Tess's father the last of the ancient knightly house of d'Urbeville, now long extinct. Her father is convinced that others should call him Sir John and give him money; her mother, Joan, thinks that putting Tess in the way of gentle folk will win her a gentleman who'll ...more
Jun 25, 2008 J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could have been perfectly happy with Alec. Then Angel broke my heart. I had trouble making out the words through my white-hot indignant anger. Then I cried and cried and the type ran and all those painful words pooled down at the bottom of the page before running out onto my lap. I've never told anyone these things. Should I have? Does anyone care?
Nov 20, 2014 Blair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, classics
I simply adored this book - so much so, in fact, that I didn't immediately want to write about it; I don't think I'm going to be able to properly articulate the effect it had on me. I loved so many things about it: Tess herself, who I fell in love with almost straight away and empathised with throughout; the painfully realistic depiction of emotions and reactions; the glorious, romantic descriptions of the landscapes the characters inhabited (which made me yearn for country life even more than I ...more
Nov 24, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, english-lit
When I first read this at 18, I hated it with the heat of a thousand suns. Tess was weak, gullible, and apparently doomed to plunge herself from one bad situation into another, while Hardy was clearly a fatalistic atheist. Why on earth would anyone read him? I’m still wondering what possessed me to read other novels of his — perhaps a perverse desire to see if they were just as bad. Whatever the reason, I did continue reading him and surprisingly enough became a fan...but never of Tess! That rem ...more
Jun 10, 2009 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Barbara recommended Tess to me this summer.

This is truly a book for celebrating the beauty of our language. As I read, I rejoiced that English is my native language! Do try to read Tess as leisurely as possible.

Hardy is masterful at weaving an intricate plot. Tess is a resplendent character; she jumps from the pages of the book and emerges as a life force before our very eyes. Her beauty is palpable. The language caresses and jars. We are plunged into the life of small hamlets in the English cou
Feb 02, 2009 April rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I understand, I really do, that the author was tackling major issues with this book. Tess was a professional victim. I've, unfortunately, known lots of those. Tess was a woman living in a time when being a woman was depressing and sometimes dangerous...Hardy definitely nailed that one. The religious and social undertones in this book were epic and fatal riptides that philosophers could be lost in for years. That being said: I. HATE. THIS. BOOK. I don't care what he was trying to say, or ho ...more
As Tess leaves the new Amazon site.....another, if small, sadness.

Sep 07, 2012 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HEADLINE: A bad guy who is fabulously talented in bed and a good guy who fumbles sex can complicate life for a girl.

I ought to have my head examined for undertaking a review of Tess of the d'Ubervilles, the next to the last of Thomas Hardy's novels. My purpose in considering the idea was that I might perhaps persuade one other person to read this novel who might not otherwise. I am all about service to my fellow man. However, there are strange aspects of this novel that when discussed in remove
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 06, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010); Shiela
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
There's this Lars von Trier movie called Dancer in the Dark, starring Björk of all people. She plays a poor factory worker in rural America. She's going blind (which is not great when you work around heavy machinery), but she needs to save up enough money to pay for an eye operation for her son. To escape her misery, she imagines elaborate musical sequences in her mind. She's also kind of an idiot.

Now, what Lars is going for here could be called misogyny or satire or sociopathy, but in short: he
Rakhi Dalal
Jun 23, 2013 Rakhi Dalal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, hardy, classics
Thomas Hardy doesn’t need any introduction by me. An eminent writer from the nineteenth century, his work is an evidence of the social recounts, which added a more humanitarian perspective to the cause and whose other advocates included the writers like George Eliot, Thackeray and Dickens. Hardy was much aware of the sad state of farm workers, especially women during those times. The dilemma faced by women, who were the victims of seduction, appalled Hardy and he was aghast at lack of concern to ...more
Oct 16, 2014 Arah-Lynda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said
I am quite conflicted by this read.

On the one hand, Hardy’s style is flawless, beautiful as he describes the country side, the dairy, drawing out the vivid landscapes of this story. His delicious bits delight the senses with heart stopping sensitivity. And then there is his Tess our protagonist….poor Tess

is so downtrodden, her journey so bleak, hello Holden Caulfield this is PUT UPON. Still Tess is strong and holds close, her own little sparks, nuggets of hope, she tucks them way back, protectiv
If I'd only known how much I would enjoy this book, I wouldn't have let it sit on my shelf for 5 long years!

I adore classics but it is hard for me to read a lot of them without feeling some indignation of the injustices dealt to women. Hardy presents us with Tess, a young woman who really doesn't have much control over her life. She is forced to sacrifice herself time and again for her family, including her child-like parents. Poor Tess. My heart really ached for her. Having to go through all s
Feb 12, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

There are mild spoilers in this review and major spoilers in the comments which follow.

For the past 18 months I’ve been reacquainting myself with Thomas Hardy’s novels through the medium of audiobooks, starting with Alan Rickman’s excellent narration of The Return of the Native and moving on to listen to Under the Greenwood Tree, The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure. Overall, this has been a very positive experience and I’ve wanted to listen to Tess for a while, albeit with a degree
May 29, 2013 Nataliya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
Tess of the d'Urbervilles is not a feel-good book, which sharply sets it apart from the other 19th century novels about young women (think Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, for instance).

No, it's sad and depressing to the point where it almost makes me angry. Because poor Tess, prone to making choice that are invariably the worst for her, just cannot catch a break. Because it's like she has majorly pissed off some higher power(s) that be and they are taking revenge, giving her the most rotten
May 27, 2013 Noce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
L’unico dramma è che vorresti non finisse mai

Ho passato anni ad ascoltare De Gregori. Ma sono altrettanti anni che no lo ascolto più. Eppure, non so come mai, gli ultimi due libri che ho letto mi hanno riportato alla mente alcune sue canzoni, e siccome non c’è due senza tre, ci ricasco nuovamente.

A mio avviso, l’idea canonica che abbiamo di una tragedia, è notevolmente influenzata dalla cinematografia. In ogni pellicola che tenga in minimo conto l’importanza della tensione narrativa, la serenità
Henry Avila
Mar 29, 2014 Henry Avila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is really about timing, it effects us all, meet someone at the wrong time or go north instead of south, your life can end badly. Ordinary events, can change our destiny. Timing is everything... Tess Durbeyfield is born into a poor, rural, southern English family of eight, in the village of Marlott, Wessex. A lazy father, John, with a taste for the bottle, and a mother, Joan, who would rather sing the latest songs, than do the necessary chores, at home. But she grows up a very attracti ...more
Jr Bacdayan
Jun 07, 2013 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It pains me to say that whenever I hear about Tess of the d'Urbervilles, I automatically associate it with Fifty Shades of Grey. Oh, that this masterpiece be besmirched in my mind by that rubbish is a travesty! Thus, I resolutely set upon disconnecting the thread by finally reading this book. And what a journey this has taken me in. I've heard from a lot of people, that Tess is one of Mr. Hardy's more inferior works. This being my first Hardy experience. Honestly, if you call this is inferior, t ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
It is a season of firsts, and this is my first Hardy. I wonder that I left him neglected so long. As has been observed by more astute readers than I, Hardy incorporates the natural world into his writing.
The gray half-tones of daybreak are not the gray half-tones of the day's close, though the degree of their shade may be the same. In the twilight of the morning, light seems active, darkness passive; in the twilight of evening it is the darkness which is active and crescent, and the light which
May 26, 2015 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-lit
Having the narrator of Tess of the d'Urbervilles tell you a story is like waiting for an eloquent speaker and thinker to get to the point; still, you bear it because through elegant word placement, he throws elegiac strains your way, which makes you wait for the story of a despondent young woman who comes of age amid the pictorial naturalism that Hardy paints.

Waiting for a Hardy story to unfold is worth it, especially after you've waited for the dimming of the movie craze and you're probably th
Jul 28, 2016 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I felt a little like a man reading a very grim book. A Thomas Hardy novel, say. You know how it’s going to end, but instead of spoiling things, that somehow increases your fascination. It’s like watching a kid run his electric train faster and faster and waiting for it to derail on one of the curves.”
Stephen King, 11/22/63
When I was reading King’s 11/22/63 I noted down this line because I was planning to read Tess of the d'Urbervilles soon and from its reputation and the two other Thomas Hardy
Andrei Tamaş
Mar 21, 2016 Andrei Tamaş rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Având ca subtitlu "O femeie inocentă", romanul prezintă, pe un fundal realist (având rigurozitatea aceea specific englezească), drama personajului eponim. Tess este o fire dogmatică, având rădăcini -deşi nu făţişe- în morala de factură creştină.
Fiind nevoită să se abată de la calea "normală" pe care ar fi trebuit să o ducă viaţa, Tess este nevoită să abandoneze acest drum şi să înfăptuiască anumite munci pentru a-şi întreţine numeroasa familie din care făcea parte (inclusiv fraţii mai mici).
helen the bookowl
Dec 27, 2015 helen the bookowl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very beautiful story about Tess, who grows from being a child to being a woman. What she goes through is heart-wrenching; however, having now finished this book I'm left with a huge question mark above my head.
First of all, I really liked how Thomas Hardy structured this story.
He leaves out bits and pieces which makes the story even more compelling. I thought that we would eventually get the answers to some of our questions, but no! All we get are small hints as to what has happened
I finally read this classic for a book club recently, my own copy of the novel having languished on my shelves for too many years. I realized, after the book club meeting, that I had probably expected it to be a discussion-cum-appreciation session, Tess being after all a cornerstone in English literature. Not a bit of it.

Woman who suggested it: Well, as you know I love the classics, and I think this is a great book. I’ve read it many times.

Me (sitting next to her): I really liked it, too, and w
Bookworm Sean
Dear, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

I’m writing you this letter because you pissed me off. I’m angry, Tess. I’ve got a lot to say to you, and I want you to hear it. I will warn you though; I’m not holding anything back. We’re going to talk about everything, everything that happens in your life from beginning to end.

How could you be so silly? How could you be so hapless and so helpless? Why do you seem to be an ill-fated walking disaster of doom trodden woe? Why, oh why, did you never learn anything?
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Thomas Hardy, OM, was an English author of the naturalist movement, although in several poems he displays elements of the previous romantic and enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural. He regarded himself primarily as a poet and composed novels mainly for financial gain. The bulk of his work, set mainly in the semi-fictional land of Wessex, delineates cha ...more
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“A strong woman who recklessly throws away her strength, she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to throw away.” 891 likes
“Beauty lay not in the thing, but in what the thing symbolized.” 371 likes
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