Review - Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Penguin Classics) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
May 27th 2003 (first published 1888) by Penguin Classics

Paperback, 592 pages

Tess Durbeyfield, Alec D'Urberville, Angel Clare
United Kingdom
literary awards
Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006/2008 Edition) (1001)
0141439599 (isbn13: 9780141439594)

From the Publisher:

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: 4 of 5 stars

"Happiness is but a mere episode in the general drama of pain." ~Thomas Hardy

A fitting quote to sum up the entire existence of Tess Durbeyfield, the beautifully tragic heroine of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Tess reminded me of that sister or friend in your life that you cannot help but love because of her absolute goodness of character, yet at the same time cannot help but become exasperated by due to her constant poor judgment and lack of common sense. She is the embodiment of all that is good and right, but her lack of backbone and ability to think for or stand up for herself is often maddening to the point of distraction. Devotion is an admirable quality in any human being, but at what point does such a trait cross the line to becoming blind obedience? This character trait in Tess had me questioning throughout the entire book whether the pivotal moment of the story...the point at which Tess loses her innocence...was, in fact, a case of rape or just another moment in Tess's life in which she allowed someone to coerce her into her actions.

On the whole, I was captivated by Hardy's beautifully tragic story, despite the fact that I found all 3 of the main characters to be unbelievably exasperating and frustrating to me. The writing was beautiful, and in many ways I found the author's use of purposeful ambiguity in regards to the "main event" to be a masterful move in creating his story. His use of character development gives us many clues as to what could have happened, but in the end we're left to decide for ourselves. Regardless, the culmination of events leads to a heartwrenching conclusion that left this reader pondering the age old themes of Forgiveness, Redemption, Judgment, Pride, Devotion, and more...

View all my reviews >>


  1. This book has been on my list since watching the Masterpiece production of it a few months ago. A tough story to get through.

  2. My hubby and I just watched this movie. I remembered that you had posted a review of the book and now I'm curious about reading it. I wonder...have you watched the movie? We just got it off of Netflix. Titer-totter. Should I - shouldn't I...