Book Review: Tess of the D’ubervilles – Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Release Date: May 2003
Pages: 518.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.


Tess of the D’Ubervilles is a beautiful, haunting masterpiece.

When Tess’s family fall on hard times, Tess is forced to go and see family she has never heard of before – the well off D’Ubervilles. On arriving she is met with Alec D’Uberville, the man who will be her downfall. After losing her child to illness, Tess receives employment as a milkmaid, and falls in love with Angel Clare, but will Tess be able to tell him about the dark past that she has so long kept secret? And if the truth is revealed, will Angel Clare still feel the same way?

I absolutely loved this book. I’m actually sad that I haven’t read it before. I read if for classes, but so many of my classmates had read it before, and I envied being able to read it without studying it. It’s such a beautiful book with such an immense plot. I kept having to put it down and come back to it, purely so I could give myself time to process what I’d read. Hardy has that ability to describe something in detail, pages covering the same thing, but it’s never repetitious and it’s never boring.

Tess of the D’Ubervilles is famous for being scandalous and shocking when it was first published, and I can see why. Though not really shocking to us now, I can imagine the horror at a story of women with a child out of marriage, and the idea of concealing that child from her suitor. Hardy certainly has a lot to say about social conventions and the way women were treated at that time.

I think Tess is a really fascinating character, she’s strong willed, stubborn and utterly loyal. She makes lots of mistakes throughout the story – and more often than not she pays the price for them. Her story is an immensely sad one. She is a survivor, continuing on even when her life seems the most hopeless.

No matter what I write about Tess of the D’Ubervilles, this review will be woefully understating how wonderful this novel is (but that’s not going to stop me trying!) The language in the novel is beautiful and poetic, and I loved the descriptions of nature. Tess is closely linked to nature throughout the plot – something I found particularly interesting. She is seen as almost part of nature herself, a pure, earthy country girl.

It’s a very bleak and depressing story, but it is definitely worth reading. This was my first outing in the novels of Thomas Hardy – although I am told The Mayor of Casterbridge is by far his best novel, I really enjoyed Tess of the D’Ubervilles and all its wonderful comments on society.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Tess of the D’ubervilles – Thomas Hardy

  • Summer @ Xingsings

    My best friend read this when we were in high school and completely feel in love with the depressing but beautifully written story. It’s kind of sad that I still haven’t picked this up yet despite reading so many fantastic reviews aside from my friend’s testimonial. I guess the ya genre has been dominating my reading life lately. Great review!

    • Nicole Sweeney

      Thanks, it’s definitely worth while reading. Beautiful and tragic is the absolutely perfect way to describe it. I completely understand though, the YA genre has been very appealing lately!