Tess of the d'Urbervilles

  • by Thomas Hardy
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 14 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


Audible Editor 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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Wonderful narrator, disappointing novel

I expected so much more from this book. True, the novel challenged many of the socially accepted views of its time, but as a novel I found it lacking in quality, especially compared to some contemporary works. To my taste, hardly a character in the book was especially interesting or psychologically credible. On top of this, the novel suffers from the extreme "goodness" of some characters, opposed with the clear "evilness" of others, and has none of the saving wit or sarcasm of Dickens or Trollope. I also found the symbolism (seasons of the year, omens, ancient ritual sites) rather childish and spoon fed to the reader, considering that this work was written around the same period as Middlemarch or any of Dostoyevsky's masterpieces.

Then again, my view seems to be the exception in this case, so if you're looking a reading of this book, I would recommend this one without hesitation. As usual, Simon Vance (alias Robert Whitfield in many of his beautiful Dickens audiobooks) delivers an outstanding performance.
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- Erez

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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- Ilana "Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-28-2008
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio