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Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Written by Thomas Hardy and Clare West

Narrated by Multiple Narrators


Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Written by Thomas Hardy and Clare West

Narrated by Multiple Narrators

ratings:
3.5/5 (94 ratings)
Length:
3 hours
Released:
Dec 20, 2007
ISBN:
9780194209779
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

A pretty young girl has to leave home to make money for her family. She is clever and a good worker; but she is uneducated and does not know the cruel ways of the world. So, when a rich young man says he loves her, she is careful - but not careful enough. He is persuasive, and she is overwhelmed. It is not her fault, but the world says it is. Her young life is already stained by men's desires, and by death.
Released:
Dec 20, 2007
ISBN:
9780194209779
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in Dorchester, Dorset. He enrolled as a student in King’s College, London, but never felt at ease there, seeing himself as socially inferior. This preoccupation with society, particularly the declining rural society, featured heavily in Hardy’s novels, with many of his stories set in the fictional county of Wessex. Since his death in 1928, Hardy has been recognised as a significant poet, influencing The Movement poets in the 1950s and 1960s.


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What people think about Tess of the d'Urbervilles

3.7
94 ratings / 126 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Spoilers be nigh. I read this in high school (sort of), which may explain why I hated it so passionately. I think the only thing I ever read in school that I didn't hate with a passion was Romeo and Juliet (and I was apparently very lucky about that – I understand school usually does a number on Shakespeare for people, too). I remember reading R&J upside-down in the living room armchair, enraptured by and a little drunk on the language. (The latter might have been partly because I was upside down, of course.) All I remember about Tess is the sick feeling of depression when I finished. (Which, given the circumstances, means that this was a remarkably poor choice of books for me at that moment in my life. Why did I never have a decent English teacher? Where was Robin Williams when I needed him?) I remember that, and had a vague presentiment that Tess would hang at the end of the book, but I was fixed on the idea that she must kill herself – somehow I completely forgot about the murder of Alec D'Urberville. And never have I been more delighted by a bloodstain in my life. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I chose audio format for this buddy read with Kim and Hayes and Simran and Jemidar (thank you, my friends!), and I'm glad I did. Not only do I think the world of Simon Vance (whose voice for Angel Clare almost seduced me into forgetting how worthless he was and made me want to forgive him. Almost), but the dialect in print was very likely one reason I loathed this book lo! those many years ago. Vance's compassionate reading was very likely one big reason I did not loathe this book this time. His feminine voices aren't the cringe-worthy things many male narrators produce – his Tess, light and with just the right amount of accent for whatever circumstance, became Tess for me. The men in this book remind me of Ricky's film about the plastic bag in American Beauty, without the beauty: a gust of wind, and the bag soars up; the air stills and the bag drops. A breath, and it skitters to one side; a draft, and it slides to the right. Every change in the wind sends these men in another direction, with another disposition – ecstatic, righteous, lust-filled, angry, depressed… sometimes several of these in one chapter. Alec D'Urberville seems to go from lusty jackass to proselytizing jackass in the blink of an eye, converting like an impressionable child based more on the demeanor of Parson Clare than on what he said – and then, of course, one look at Tess flips him right back again like a light switch: up = hellfire-and-brimstone preacher, down = creepy, creepy rapist. Angel Clare … Oh, where to begin? His treatment of Tess – and then his change of mind, and then his change back, and then back again, and his offhand devastation of Izz Huett … his flip-flopping makes your average politician look like a model of unswerving determination. The man up and sailed to Brazil on the strength of a travel agency sign. Brazil. It's not like going to Brighton. There is one man in the tale who has a more consistent character: Tess's father. He's a lazy stupid drunk, and that never changes. He seizes on a straw in the wind to – in his and his wife's minds at least – lend countenance to his innate laziness. His concentration never wavers from the skellintons in the ancient tombs and all that is, he thinks, due him as the descendant of same. He's an ass, and worthless as a father, a husband, and a human being, and I hate him deeply. I think I hate him more than the other two, even. The person I don't hate, and this shocks me, is Tess. Poor Tess. She didn't want to be put into the position her parents shoved her into – which resulted in her rape. She certainly didn't want anything to do with Alec D'Urberville, but unfortunately she fell asleep, poor little bint, and unfortunately he was a thorough-going bastard. Throughout the book she does the best she can to prevent situations – but it's an ineffectual best, and she is overruled and overpowered and left bleeding by the worthless men in her life, father, "cousin", beloved. There were several aspects of her situation that I was surprised at, because it was as if Hardy smoothed the road for her a bit. I was surprised when the Durbeyfield neighbors did not shun Tess after the birth of the baby; I fully expected her to be spat on. They were not wholly forgiving (as witness the family's eviction after the father dies), but much better than I expected, to her face at least. I was shocked when the baby died – I fully expected him to be a growing millstone around her neck, much harder to get past than a history including a dead child. I was surprised once more when, Izz and Retty and Marian having all also fallen in love with Angel Clare, they decided that they did not and could not hate Tess for being the chosen one, and – whatever damage they did her accidentally – all remained her friends throughout. Even Clare's parents became more kindly disposed to her (which is made into a point against them, in a satirical way, but would have been a good thing for Tess if she could have taken advantage of it). It seems to me that a great many authors would have chosen to isolate Tess, make it their poor beleaguered lass against the world, saved only by the love of a weak man who then also turns away from her; that Hardy chose a more realistic route is a huge point in his favor. There are times when it's nice to have a faulty memory. I re-read this book as if it were the first time, and I'm glad of it – I had no idea how everything would turn out, and I was freed to hope for the best even while I (with that one partial memory in mind) feared the worst: I did know it was not a happily-ever-after book, but the details were drowned in the past. The language, while slightly purple in places, was beautiful; the story genuinely moved me. I could not be more amazed. (Buddy reads FTW!)
  • (4/5)
    The book is beautifully written, so much so, I took off a star because it is all so sad. Tess, is a woman betrayed, and the full millstones of the gods descend on her. Do read it, and then try a cheer up routine. At first a bowdlerized version was a magazine serial in 1891...but if you had the money, you could buy the whole thing in three hardcover volumes in 1892.
  • (4/5)
    Young dairymaid Tess Durbeyfield goes to work for a supposed cousin when her father learns that their family roots go back to the noble D’Urberville family. The degenerate son of the upstart modern D’Urbervilles rapes her. Some time later, she finds both work and love elsewhere, but can she truly move on from her past trauma? I knew from the start that this was going to be a downer, and yes, it turned out to be just as depressing as expected. I kept hoping for a happy ending for Tess, and it so nearly could have been. I got pretty irritated at Angel Clare, let me tell you. I can see how this work gained its classic status; the writing is lovely in spots (strewn with classical allusions that I didn’t always take the time to grasp, though) and the plot fairly compelling. Not one I’ll read again, but I’m glad I finally got around to it.
  • (4/5)
    Hardy's sense of place and development of character excel, but the plot and the recriminating of Tess simply drag on for too long.Deciding to tell Angel about her deceit after their marriage felt false and deciding to murder Alec after she willingly joined him was untrue to her character.
  • (4/5)
    I read this novel many years ago, but I remember that it was very sad and it has stayed with me.
  • (2/5)
    Old language makes this hard to enjoy . Trying to appreciate English composition .
  • (4/5)
    Prachtig, in de eerste plaats als smartelijk liefdesverhaal.Centrale figuur Tess is heel geloofwaardig uitgewerkt; bijna sotto voce.Naturalistisch accent in sociaal stigma, de erfelijke belasting en het noodlotsthema maar niet overdreven.Figuur van Angel is intrigerend, maar niet helemaal geloofwaardig (zijn sociaal nonconformisme vloekt met zijn verstoting van Tess om sociale redenen). Het einde (vooral het huwelijk van Angel met Liza Lie is heel ongeloofwaardig)Prachtige setting in agrarische Engeland in volle verandering (machines)
  • (4/5)
    The slow tragedy of pure-hearted Tess as life slowly and it feels like inevitably results in her tragic demise.
  • (1/5)
    Bad things happening to a pristine waif. She was a true symbol of feminine modesty and virtue. This is why it was especially sad that so many bad things happened. It was a long time ago. Life was bad back then. Men were especially wicked, evil man-demons who existed only to exploit delicate women.

    It's a classic, but not a good one.
  • (5/5)
    Possibly my favorite book by my favorite writer.

    Hardy's ability to bring the people, the time and the place together is unparalleled. His sense of the countryside, the natural world and it's inhabitants is a kind of spiritual vison. His sympathy and understanding for the lives and characters of everyday people and especially those who suffer the manifest social injustices of the time is really unequalled (well, maybe not unequalled but you get the idea).

    I just think he is a genius and one of the greatest english language writers we have.

    I feel like an idiot trying to write about him.
  • (5/5)
    Great, tragic story.
  • (4/5)
    So, This is the first Hardy that I have read. Unsure whether I should have picked this one as my first to read though. It was not a happy book. Very quickly I saw that Tess's young life became 'oh so complicated.'Throughout that though, I ploughed on through the book, realising very soon, that there was no happy ending. Not the happy ending that I wanted. Irrespectively though, I did really 'enjoy' this book. I found it very well written, descriptive and a book that had the ability to grab me and keep me intrigued.I would recommend this book.
  • (3/5)
    so melodramatic!!!!
  • (3/5)
    Appalling ending. Brilliant book. But painful ending. Not a HEA thats for sure!
  • (2/5)
    This is one of the driest, most depressing, and most uninteresting books I've ever given up on. Not worth the time of digging for truths.
  • (5/5)
    Thomas Hardy is fast becoming one of my favourite authors; that man knew how to spin a seriously good yarn, and I am going to have serious book hangover now after finishing Tess. Emotion wrenching characterisation? Tick. Amazing imagery? Tick. Page-turning plot? Tick. 500 pages felt like 50. Tess is an amazing protagonist - beautiful and pure at heart, she stalwartly endures the major change in circumstances thrown at her throughout the book, tearing our hearts apart with her readiness to carry the can for the men who have wronged her. Alec d'Urberville is a superb and complex villain of conflicting layers, and Angel Clare... well, let's just say Hardy played with his character so cleverly at one point I shouted aloud "what a complete s**t!" much to the surprise and consternation of my husband.These trials and tribulations were all played out with the backdrop of Wessex painted as if with an artist's delicate brushstrokes. I watched the mist clear across lush green valleys as I walked side-by-side with Tess along the lanes and byways, felt the dew on the hems of my skirts, and felt the warmth of the sun on my face as I looked out across the dairy courtyard to the views beyond.My only criticism with this book is with this particular Penguin Popular Classic edition, which felt a need to give away most of the plot on the book jacket. This spoilt a number of plot points which Hardy had done a great job of concealing, and seemed very unnecessary.5 stars and then some for the literary equivalent of John Constable.
  • (5/5)
    Profoundly affecting.
  • (4/5)
    Prachtig, in de eerste plaats als smartelijk liefdesverhaal.Centrale figuur Tess is heel geloofwaardig uitgewerkt; bijna sotto voce.Naturalistisch accent in sociaal stigma, de erfelijke belasting en het noodlotsthema maar niet overdreven.Figuur van Angel is intrigerend, maar niet helemaal geloofwaardig (zijn sociaal nonconformisme vloekt met zijn verstoting van Tess om sociale redenen). Het einde (vooral het huwelijk van Angel met Liza Lie is heel ongeloofwaardig)Prachtige setting in agrarische Engeland in volle verandering (machines)
  • (4/5)
    2014: ...What? (2 stars)2016 [SPOILERS]: I remember the first time I finished this book, in bed in my college dorm room with my mouth hanging open from the moment Tess declared "I have killed him!" A second reading really was necessary to process.I think I care more for Tess than I usually care about characters, somehow. My heart aches for her in all the ways her life goes wrong. And I cheer for her because she really is a strong and mature character. She's very well-written.Alec D'Urberville, on the other hand is sufficiently infuriating, as is Angel Clare. Alec makes me want to scream when he just won't leave Tess alone. I want to smack him. But that didn't do Tess any good... And Angel with his hypocrisy and self-righteousness... Ugh. Poor Tess. I should want Tess to find a better man than Angel, but she loves him so much, I tend to want him to come to his senses instead.In regards to Tess' experience with Alec, the writing of it frustrates me a bit. To me, up through that moment, it is very clear that Alec raped Tess. She never liked him, never showed him any affection. She blatantly wiped away his kiss. He made her very uncomfortable. Her behavior through that point gives me absolutely no reason to believe that Tess would willingly have sex with Alec. Afterward, however, the writing makes it seem more like they had been in a relationship and she had willingly slept with him, though she regretted it later. And those two interpretations just don't jive. After thinking about it, I've decided on my interpretation. I think it is kind of both of the above. I think Alec raped her. And then because of the society she lived in, after that happened, Tess felt like she belonged to Alec or was tied to him in a way. It's even said in the book that she's more married to Alec than she is to Angel. Of course, I don't believe that, but I think that would have been her thought process. So, I think that after Alec "claimed" her, she continued working at the D'Urberville estate, and probably allowed him to have sex with her again, though she still didn't want that kind of relationship with him. Until finally, she couldn't live with it anymore, and she left for home.Through all that, it really is a surprisingly feminist book for one written by a man in the 1800's. I should read more of his work (any suggestions?). I also think this book could inspire a really good modern film adaptation.I think my only complaint aside from maybe the ambiguity of the [rape/seduction is that it can be quite slow, especially during Tess' employment at the dairy. I almost only brought my rating up one star because of that, but I love Tess so much and the story itself is so beautifully tragic that I rated it 4 stars.I want to write a better review of this book. Maybe I'll edit this sometime.
  • (5/5)
    Tess was my first. This depressing and enchanting story of a woman in rural England struggling against 'a sea of troubles' was my introduction to Hardy, now my favorite author of fiction, through the excellent 2008 miniseries.
  • (4/5)
    Tess of the d'Ubervilles by Thomas HardyStory of a woman who is raised in the 1800's and does manual labor for her parents as a milk maid.She had once gone with others but one man refused to dance with her and he meets her again and she never forgets him.Loved learning the process of doing the job of milk maid, so much more than i ever realized. Skimming and then the milking.She is tortured being married to the Aristotle and really treasures everything she sees in Angel.Drastic changes when Angel returns.... summaries of other works by the author are listed at the end.I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
  • (4/5)
    This was my fourth Hardy work, and while enjoyable, was my least favorite. Hardy is a great story teller- he conveys a sense of rural English life that few other can match. In addition, Hardy effectively includes just enough characters and detail to move the plot forward without distracting the reader with unnecessary information.Unfortunately, unlike his other books, I felt Hardy's portrayal of his main characters was far too stereotypical and shallow. Tess, in particular, as the abused, love struck and weak minded maiden was so over the top that I found it difficult to sympathize with her situation.On a good note, Hardy's ending was excellent.Recommended, but if your time is limited I suggest reading The Mayor of Casterbridge, which I consider his finest work.
  • (3/5)
    I read this in college. I remember liking it pretty well at the time, but it did not make me a fan of Thomas Hardy, and since then my opinion of him--and especially his depiction of women--has soured considerably.
  • (3/5)
    I'm not sure how I feel about this. Each character is exceptionally well fleshed out - none are held above all as perfect, no character is so flawed as to be irredeemable. Yet, I never felt particularly compelled or biased for or against any character. I never felt invested. I couldn't revel in one character's comeuppance, or celebrate another's successors. If I were to re-read this book, it would only be for the plot, never for the characters.
  • (3/5)
    Ditching the book because it is too sad. Left off on part three chapter ten.
  • (5/5)
    This was a very impressive story from the 19th century. Tess, the eldest daughter of the Durbeyfield family, had a bad way to go, because her parents, particularly her father, the alleged long-extinct former noble membership rose to head. She was as a young adult sent to approach as impoverished cousin a-bought d'Urbervilles, so her family could live decently. This d'Urbervilles showed very quickly its true face as a womanizer and arrogant man. Tess was 'raped' by him and returned to her family home where she gave birth to a child who died soon. In order not to give her family more grief and because she could not find work in her home village, she left to work as as milkmaids on a farm. There she met the pastor's son Angel Clare into whom she fell in love. But she knew she could never indulge him because of her past.Angel wanted to marry Tess. When they were married, Tess told him her past. He disowned her and walked away. Tess moved first back home but to not disgrace her family she moved away to earn her livelihood. She took every several work on even if it was so difficult. But she never stopped to love Angel. The arrogant d'Urbervilles crossed her path, trying to win her back. She refused, but he did not let loose. As Tess father died and she had now also to ensure the livelihood of the family and did not hear from Angel more, she agreed a liaison with him. Meanwhile came Angel home from overseas. When he learned that Tess still loved him, he began to look for her. When he found her, he realized that he was late. Tess in her despair and deep love for Angel, murdered d'Urbervilles. She searched Angel and spent happy days with him before the lawmen found her and she received her punishment.I liked how this story was written with much love for the characters. Even the rural life and the circumstances of the time are described in great details. Despite the great length of this book I have read it very quickly.
  • (4/5)
    Hardy is an incredible writer (there's a scene of someone watching Tess as she works in the field, the sun hitting her face, that I remember to this day) but I'm troubled by how his brain works.
  • (5/5)
    It's one of the best, most capturing books I've read in a while.Tess touched my heart in everyway. I couldn't stop crying during the story. How could anyone be born so unfortunate, so weak yet so beautiful, so cursed by society, her family and most importantly her husbend Angel. I didn't know how could she have forgiven him so easily after he abandoned her. I know how she felt but I couldn't stand how her life has ended, she just doesn't deserve such an ending. Tess will always stay in mind forever.
  • (3/5)
    Beautiful--Hardy doesn't write a story, he paints one. But so, so sad!
  • (2/5)
    I feel like this was almost two different books. I was really enjoying the story, sympathising with Tess, and admiring the author's progressive attitudes, when at the very end the whole thing derailed. Before the ending, I would have given the book a 3 star rating. It was engaging, had some complex characters, and really dealt with the idea of the fallen woman in an amazing way. But then....

    For me, the story fell apart when Angel returned and found Tess living with the cruel Alec. That was not how I'd imagined the story would go! I'd hoped Alec could be redeemed, and be a genuinely good friend to Tess, if not a lover. That when Angel returned Tess would cast him off, give him a roaring lecture for being such an idiotic hypocrite. His crimes against Tess were far worse than Alec's in my opinion. The majority of this novel was thoughtful and innovative, but the ending read as a trashy, old timey, conservative, romance.