Check it out! Another one off the BBC's list! This makes nine!
The chance discovery by
a young peasant woman that she is a descendant of the noble family of
d'Urbervilles is to change the course of her life. Tess Durbeyfield
leaves home on the first of her fateful journeys, and meets the ruthless
Alec d'Urberville. Thomas Hardy's impassioned story tells of hope and
disappointment, rejection and enduring love.
MY RATING: 5 STARS
And my review as posted on GoodReads:
Everything aligned somehow so I read this book exactly when it would have the most impact. Isn't it so quaint when that happens?
didn't know what to expect from this, as I was only barely familiar
with the plot and didn't even know the name of the book for the longest
time. All I knew was that I'd seen part of a TV adaptation and was so
intrigued by it that I had to track down the book. It took me awhile,
but lo and behold, here it is!
I think I'll be focusing mostly on
the characters here. In summary, I hated Alec with a passion, spent
most of the time absolutely furious with Angel, and jumped back and
forth between feeling empathetic and heartbroken for Tess and just
wanting to thump her. I'll start with Alec, as he's the easiest. He got
better than what he deserved, if you ask me. After what he put Tess
through and how he ruined her life, he got off pretty damn easy! Oh, boo
hoo, he repented for a little while because he felt so terrible for
what he did and wanted to make amends, but when temptation struck again
he was just as much of a...um...let's go with "pig," shall we? The only
other villain that springs to mind at the moment I despised as much as
him is Uriah Heep, and I really don't know that I might hate Alec a tiny
bit more. And after all of that, he got a knife through the heart while
he slept, thinking himself so victorious in having finally brought Tess
back under his thumb. He deserved it, but he deserved more than that!
Angel Clare, the bloody hypocrite...to be fair, he did love Tess after
all and when it came down to it, he didn't blame her for Alec's actions
or hate her for keeping the secret from him. But come on, man, you
should have figured that out sooner! What is wrong with you?! You could
have saved everyone, including your devoted wife, SO much heartache if
you hadn't been such an obtuse moron! I started out liking Angel a bit
(or at least, he was heaps and bunches more appealing than that turd
Alec), then as I said, I spent a great deal of the book furious at him,
his principles he abandoned in the blink of an eye, and his stupidity.
Did you really have to run off to Brazil and just ditch the woman you
made yourself responsible for? Everything she did, she did for love of
you! You idiot!
All right, methinks it's best if I move on...
herself was a tricky one to pin down feelings for. She was steady and
devoted and pure, in spite of everything she'd been through, and I loved
her for that. She was proud, self-sacrificing to the point of
masochism, and she laid down her spirit in deference to her husband when
she would have done better to give him the what-for, and I could have
clocked her for that. Yet everything she did, she did for love of Angel.
She tried to refuse him at first to avoid defaming him, she finally
confessed to her history with Alec because she couldn't stand to lie to
him, and she did her best to deter Alec's renewed advances out of
loyalty to Angel even after he'd left her. She ultimately died for love
of Angel, if you think about it. To rid herself of Alec and wholly
attach herself to her husband, she committed murder and was put to
death. While I cried as I read the last few pages, I still felt so
relieved for her, because at last she was free of her misery and
torment, knowing those few days of happiness with the man she loved and
who (FINALLY!) loved her in return.
I loved Thomas Hardy's use of
language throughout, his imagery and symbolism. My favorites were "A
field-man is a personality afield; a field-woman is a portion of the
field; she has somehow lost her own margin; imbibed the essence of her
surrounding, and assimilated herself with it." That suited Tess
perfectly, and I connected with that part. There was also "The greater
the sinner, the greater the saint; it was not necessary to dive far into
Christian history to discover that." Paul the apostle comes to mind,
but as this was spoken in reference to Alec d'Urberville, the whopping
pile of dung he is, this smacks of irony and hypocrisy. Boy, he must
have made an impressive cleric, if a brief one! Best one of all, "'How
can I pray for you,' she said, 'when I am forbidden to believe that the
great Power who moves the world would alter His plans on my account?'"
Oh, SNAP! Does she forgive that fantastic sinner? I don't think so!
Every heroine deserves a "You go, girl!" moment, and that one was
To wrap this up, it was a heart-wrenching read and one
of the saddest I've read recently, but oh my, did I love it. The money I
paid for this one was money well spent! (But I'll admit, it would be
nice to get a brand-new copy when this one wears out...one that hasn't
been scribbled all over by the previous owner...)
Your humble book nerd,