I have recently finished reading Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy as part of my AS Level English Literature course. And, yes, I admit, when I found out that this was one of the books I would be studying, I wasn't too excited to say the least. However, my doubts were soon altered as I began really enjoying the novel.
The story is set in Dorset, South England, where Tess - the main character - was born and raised along with her many other siblings by her parents, who unfortunately, are a tad too fond of alcohol. The story begins with a Vicar telling her father, John Durbeyfield, that his ancestors were once great, well-known knights. This, whether true or not, haunts Tess throughout the novel.
As the story unfolds and Tess meets many other characters, two of whom especially have a huge impact on her life, and she experiences troubled highs and many lows. One of the things I really loved about Tess, is that even though she has to journey through so many struggles, and is let down by so many people she loves, she is still loyal and compassionate towards them. I also love her because I think she is just so real and so human, unlike some characters authors make to seem impossibly perfect.
I found I learnt a lot more about Victorian society than I have from studying it in school (given that was in Primary!), I felt I experienced it more from a personal point of view and I was angered and frustrated on behalf of Tess because of the completely unjust patriarchal society. It also made me see industrialisation from the country folks point of view, and how, when agricultural machinery was first introduced, it was so terrifying and devastating for workers.
As for the style of writing, I thought it would be very hard going and dense, and yes, it took me longer to read than most other books, and I had to pay more attention but overall it wasn't bad at all! I also feel that, as we discussed and wrote essays alongside reading the book in class, it made it easier for me.
If anyone has read Tess of the d'Urbervilles or any other Hardy or Victorian novels, I'd love to hear what you thought!
Also, I do more book reviews on my goodreads account, which are a lot more brief and straight after I have finished the book.
Do you enjoy reading book reviews? Are they something I should do more often?
Please let me know your thoughts!
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