51. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy (100 book challenge)

After finally conquering Les Misérables, I needed something a bit easier to read. I had loved Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, so I thought I’d choose another book from the list by the same author.

And I was not disappointed!

Similar to Madding Crowd, this book has a strong female character who suffers as a result of society’s views. To the reader, she is clearly an innocent victim, yet no one around her can see this.

It was first published in 1891 – so we’re talking 111 years ago – yet frustratingly we’re still seeing the same responses from our very own communities! How can this be?

I wonder if Hardy wrote this book in the 1890s with the hope that he would shine a light on the hypocrisy of victim-blaming and make real change. I’m sure he didn’t think that over a century later we would still be having these discussions.

My mum mentioned that this was on the reading list for her in high school in the 1970s. Perhaps the teachers back then also had hope that Hardy’s book would be the final push needed to change a generation of young people and give power to women in Tess D’Uberville’s situation. Those teachers probably didn’t expect that 50 years later we would still have so far to go.

So how do I feel about my grandkids reading this book in the 2070s and wondering why we still can’t get it right? It’s a very sad thought, but one that shouldn’t really surprise us.

Tess of D’Ubervilles is full of engaging characters, surprising twists and uncomfortable themes. The perfect mix that made me love every page I read.

There’s one more Hardy book on the #100bookchallenge – Jude the Obscure. Perhaps I’ll save that one for when I need something lighter to read after The Bible or War and Peace.


In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.


Filed under 100 book challenge

3 responses to “51. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy (100 book challenge)

  1. Pingback: 100 book challenge: my running tally | Jessie Ansons

  2. Jan

    I love the way you occasionally throw your mum into your reviews


  3. Pingback: 53. On the Road – Jack Kerouac (100 book challenge) | Jessie Ansons

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