Review – Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Audiobook edition.

5 stars.

One of the great works of English fiction Tess of the D’Urbervilles tells the tragic tale of a young country girl. The revelation she is of a long-since-fallen noble family is the catalyst leading to seduction, ruin, heartbreak, and murder. Tess is the innocent, unwilling heroine who falls from virtue at the hands of an unscrupulous relative and then falls to the moral prejudice of her times. Beautifully written, the reader gets a real sense of the locations, the social aspects of the time and the raw emotion of this book.

Touching on religion, both the simple faith of the country-folk entwined with the lingering almost pagan remnants and the more formal Christian beliefs; the status of women – and the hypocrisy of the expectation of virtue of the female against the reality, and the lesser expectations of such virtue for men it makes one cherish the more enlightened times the reader now enjoys. An unwanted encounter, and the resultant outcome (such as an illegitimate child) could bring the downfall of a woman – even if she’d been seduced. This is a story of innocence fallen, redemption lost, and love thwarted by perceived social stigma. There are no winners here. The final chapter brings the eluded to climax and was influenced by the author seeing an actual event of its kind. It’s a story of purity of soul and love but even that is not enough. Social prejudice, upbringing and community and class distinctions bring their own malevolence and tragedy.

This was the audio version – the narrator infuses the story with emotion. I have to confess there was a tear or two in my eyes – even though I already knew the ending.


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