Hardy's harrowing novel of seduction and abandonment introduced his most memorable tragic heroine, the unworldly maiden Tess.
On her morning journey to earn money for her impoverished family, Tess' horse has an accident, forcing her to seek assistance from some newly rich relatives. There, she is vigorously pursued by Alec, who corners her in a field one night and takes advantage of her. After bearing a child who quickly dies, Tess meets and falls in love with Angel, a minister's son who is infatuated with the image of Tess as the pure country maid. But when he learns the truth of her past, he shuns his new bride and leaves Tess once again to fend for herself in a world where she is only valued for her uses to others.
"Like the greatest characters in literature, Tess lives beyond the final pages of the book as a permanent citizen of the imagination....Tess is that rare creature in literature: goodness made interesting." (Irving Howe)
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