Tuesday, April 12, 2011
TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES by Thomas Hardy
A young woman falls victim to an unscrupulous man and spends her life suffering the consequences of his sin.
This is a story about double standards, making it very frustrating to read. Tess is an innocent girl who is essentially raped, but she cannot overcome the sense that she has done something wrong. Her angelic new husband, apparently a progressive thinker, cannot see past the loss of her virtue, despite his own indiscretions. Everybody suffers, but no one more than Tess. This is an odd mix of deception and honesty, convention and irreverence that highlights the changing values of Hardy's England.
There are many moments in this story when things almost work out. If only Tess had said something slightly different at any given moment Angel might have relented. If only one circumstance had been slightly different, Tess might not have made the choices she did. If only a tiny scrap of humanity or love had entered one character's mind, another might not have suffered. These little moments make this story tense and fascinating.
The great thing about Hardy's writing style is that he has a way of pulling back and describing broad, panoramic scenes and then zeroing in on tiny details. He shows you the extraordinary curve of an eyelash or a stray shadow, and then seemlessly returns to the sweeping mystery of the countryside. The rich language pulls you into this story of love, betrayal, history and deception and does not let you go.
Here's the good old Project Gutenberg link
And here's another review of this book from Sarcastic Female Literary Circle
Free Kindle edition
Do you think people can ever fully overcome a checkered past in the eyes of others?