I was not expecting to like this book. I bought it because it had a pretty cover and the pages were edged with black. I knew the story going into this because I had seen the film with Gemma Arterton and while I enjoyed the film it was so depressing I had no wish to read the book.
But I judged the book by it’s cover and on a “I’m going on holiday” moment of madness in the airport W H Smith I picked it up.
I absolutely loved it, I have never enjoyed such a depressing book in all my life (in fact I’ve probably never read such a depressing book).
BRIEF SYNOPSIS (spoilers): Tess Durbyfield lives with her poor family, they find out they are descended from a rich family called the D’Urbervilles so send Tess to go and meet this family. Tess meets her cousin Alec who offers her a job, then he rapes her and she is shunned by society when she has his child. She returned home to her family had the baby which then died. Off Tess goes to make some money and she meets Angel who falls in love with her and she with him. He wants to marry her, she says no because she is ‘damaged goods’ but doesn’t tell him why. Eventually she agrees and leaves him a note telling him everything so he knows exactly what he’s getting when he marries her. He doesn’t get the note. He marries her, confesses to having sex before they were married, she confesses the same and he rejects her, runs off to South America without her and leaves her to find her own way in the world. She ends up being taken in by Alec, Angel returns, she kills Alec runs off with Angel, they get caught and she gets killed for the murder of Alec. The End.
I got annoyed with every single person in this book. Not a single character was above reproach. They were all awful. But it’s meant to be. It’s a tragedy.
If I hadn’t known what was going to happen I would probably have hated it but I knew it wasn’t going to get any better so I just settled in and enjoyed the story. The writing was incredible and it’s definitely made me want to read more Thomas Hardy.
Normally I would never recommend watching the film before reading the book but in this case I am so glad I did.
Have you read Tess of the D’Urberville? What did you think?