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Editorial Reviews

In this classic novel of a peasant girl meeting the aristocracy, and then dealing with the consequences, Thomas Hardy examines the mores and contradictions of late-nineteenth-century England. Tess is the ultimate tragic heroine, and her plight - especially the questions of sexuality it raises - resonates even today. Simon Vance narrates this timeless story as a one-man band of Englishness. From his impeccable rhythm to the wonderful variety of accents he employs throughout the novel, his narration is outstanding. One might think the work is being delivered by a full cast. In bringing the audio to life, especially through the accents he uses for the country folk, Vance reminds us why Hardy's great work remains a classic of English literature.
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Publisher's Summary

Young Tess Durbeyfield attempts to restore her family's fortunes by claiming their connection with the aristocratic d'Urbervilles. But Alec d'Urberville is a rich wastrel who seduces her and makes her life miserable.When Tess meets Angel Clare, she is offered true love and happiness, but her past catches up with her, and she faces an agonizing moral choice.Thomas Hardy's indictment of society's double standards, and his depiction of Tess as "a pure woman", caused controversy in his day and has held the imagination of readers ever since. Hardy thought it his finest novel and Tess the most deeply felt character he ever created.
(P)2008 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Ilana on 11-04-12

Beautiful and Heartbreaking

Tess Durbeyfield is still only a young girl when he father learns from the local clergyman that he is one of the last living descendants of an ancient English noble family. As the Durbeyfields are very poor, they soon convince Tess to present herself to a rich old woman and her son who live nearby, named D'Urberville. They believe them to be their rich relations and all but force Tess to ask for help in their dire need. What none of them can know is that these supposed relatives have only come by the name by purchasing it after having made a fortune, to elevate themselves from their origins as humble merchants. When Tess presents herself at the D'Urberville house, she is greeted by Alec D'Urberville, a young man who quickly proves to be a womanizing bully, who right away claims to be in love with the beautiful young Tess and contrives to have her live under his roof and work for him under false pretences. He uses every means at his disposal to break down Tess's defences and takes advantage of her one day, which, because this is a 19th century novel and no unmarried woman could have a sexual encounter without the most disastrous consequences, will of course determine the course of the rest of poor Tess's life and end in great tragedy. I’ve seen many people comment on Hardy's proclivity for writing depressing stories about doomed heroines, but if you happen to be in the mood for a fine 19th century tragic bucolic romance, this is just the ticket. I was too young to see Nastassja Kinski famously playing the role of Tess when Roman Polanski's classic movie came out in theatres, but that young woman's fragile beauty was at the forefront of my mind throughout this reading, which helped make the story that much more poignant somehow. A novel I'll be sure to revisit in future.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful


By Jess on 11-04-12

perfect narrator

Would you consider the audio edition of Tess of the d'Urbervilles to be better than the print version?

yes

What other book might you compare Tess of the d'Urbervilles to and why?

Mayor of Casterbridge and jude the Obscure, same sns of the inexorable destiny

What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Th mood, the voices, he was amazing

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The hazards of pride

Any additional comments?

All Hardy books should be read by Simon Vance

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Helen on 03-09-15

not Hardy at his best - woeful narration

I love Thomas Hrady, but had never read this book, though I knew the story. I found it lacked the lyricism of his other works, and the characters were not as well-formed - aside from Tess and Angel, the characters are almost caricatures of West Country bumpkins, though that may have been down to the narrator. I didn't feel Tess was as fully-formed a character as some of Hardy's other heroines, and Angel is not sympathetic at all, so hard to feel Tess's love for him. I struggled at times to stay interested, and found myself listening just to try to get it over and done with.

Ultimately, though, it was the narration that spoiled this. Simon Vance puts on such terrible women's voices it is farcical, so it's hard to take Tess seriously. His portrayal of the country folk is too far-fetched and comical. Hardy writes tragic, moving novels, not bawdy comedies. And most unforgivable of all - he cannot do a West Country accent, and his attempt drifts further and further west throughout the book, so Tess in turn becomes Welsh and eventually Irish by the end of the book. Appalling.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By Mrs. M. Bowen-pagett on 05-17-17

Another wonder of a book!

loved it! Thomas hardy as always - wonderful. never wanted it to end, next book please!

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