Thomas Hardy's indictment of society's double standards, and his depiction of Tess as "a pure woman", caused controversy in his day and has held the imagination of readers ever since. Hardy thought it his finest novel and Tess the most deeply felt character he ever created.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Helen on 09-03-15
not Hardy at his best - woeful narration
I love Thomas Hrady, but had never read this book, though I knew the story. I found it lacked the lyricism of his other works, and the characters were not as well-formed - aside from Tess and Angel, the characters are almost caricatures of West Country bumpkins, though that may have been down to the narrator. I didn't feel Tess was as fully-formed a character as some of Hardy's other heroines, and Angel is not sympathetic at all, so hard to feel Tess's love for him. I struggled at times to stay interested, and found myself listening just to try to get it over and done with.
Ultimately, though, it was the narration that spoiled this. Simon Vance puts on such terrible women's voices it is farcical, so it's hard to take Tess seriously. His portrayal of the country folk is too far-fetched and comical. Hardy writes tragic, moving novels, not bawdy comedies. And most unforgivable of all - he cannot do a West Country accent, and his attempt drifts further and further west throughout the book, so Tess in turn becomes Welsh and eventually Irish by the end of the book. Appalling.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ilana on 04-11-12
Beautiful and Heartbreaking
Tess Durbeyfield is still only a young girl when he father learns from the local clergyman that he is one of the last living descendants of an ancient English noble family. As the Durbeyfields are very poor, they soon convince Tess to present herself to a rich old woman and her son who live nearby, named D'Urberville. They believe them to be their rich relations and all but force Tess to ask for help in their dire need. What none of them can know is that these supposed relatives have only come by the name by purchasing it after having made a fortune, to elevate themselves from their origins as humble merchants. When Tess presents herself at the D'Urberville house, she is greeted by Alec D'Urberville, a young man who quickly proves to be a womanizing bully, who right away claims to be in love with the beautiful young Tess and contrives to have her live under his roof and work for him under false pretences. He uses every means at his disposal to break down Tess's defences and takes advantage of her one day, which, because this is a 19th century novel and no unmarried woman could have a sexual encounter without the most disastrous consequences, will of course determine the course of the rest of poor Tess's life and end in great tragedy. I’ve seen many people comment on Hardy's proclivity for writing depressing stories about doomed heroines, but if you happen to be in the mood for a fine 19th century tragic bucolic romance, this is just the ticket. I was too young to see Nastassja Kinski famously playing the role of Tess when Roman Polanski's classic movie came out in theatres, but that young woman's fragile beauty was at the forefront of my mind throughout this reading, which helped make the story that much more poignant somehow. A novel I'll be sure to revisit in future.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By Jess on 04-11-12
Would you consider the audio edition of Tess of the d'Urbervilles to be better than the print version?
What other book might you compare Tess of the d'Urbervilles to and why?
Mayor of Casterbridge and jude the Obscure, same sns of the inexorable destiny
What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Th mood, the voices, he was amazing
If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
The hazards of pride
Any additional comments?
All Hardy books should be read by Simon Vance
7 of 7 people found this review helpful