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Tess of the d'Urbervilles | [Thomas Hardy]

Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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.
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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.

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

What Members Say

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4.1 (136 )
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  •  
    Ilana Montreal, Quebec, Canada 11-04-12
    Ilana Montreal, Quebec, Canada 11-04-12 Member Since 2011

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

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    "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.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jess boulder, CO, United States 11-04-12
    Jess boulder, CO, United States 11-04-12 Member Since 2011
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    "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

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erez Israel 10-14-08
    Erez Israel 10-14-08 Member Since 2007
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    "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.

    10 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MurphysLaw58 Iowa 02-15-14
    MurphysLaw58 Iowa 02-15-14 Member Since 2007

    Murphy

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    "Fascinating, demoralizing, beautiful, disturbing"

    "She was ashamed of herself for her gloom of the night, based on nothing more tangible than a sense of condemnation under an arbitrary law of society which had no foundation in Nature."
    Thomas Hardy. "Tess of the d'Urbervilles, a Pure Woman"

    Wow.

    How did I get to be so old without having read this book before. I thought I knew the story, but must have conflated it with others. I imagined a girl who tried to pass for a member of Victorian high society and whose shame was that of being discovered for what she was. Little did I realize the role that the sexual act would play in the story, and that Tess never tried to be something she wasn't, or at least she strove to be exactly what society dictated she be.

    The descriptions of rural life in late Victorian England are beautifully written. The most powerful images and scenes for me are when Tess is working on the threshing machine. Hardy juxtaposes the beauty of nature with the repulsiveness of the man-made, exposing the fear we should have of the latter as it displaces the former. Having some idea of Tess's eventual fate, or at least assuming her fate based on the requirements of the day, I was terrified that Tess would either accidentally or purposefully throw herself into the machine. When the farmer came to tell her that her hair was falling down, I took that as a warning that it would be caught in the mechanism, using a source of her beauty as a means of her death. I thought Hardy was using the ugliness of the machine as a metaphor for changes in the morals of the country and the dangers of modernization.

    Regardless of my preconceived notions, I was in no way prepared for the final scenes of the book. Without spoiling it by specifics, I have to say that the drama of this reading is hardly rivaled by modern-day works.

    As for the narration of this recorded book: meh. In fact, it is a testament to the power of the story that it rose above the narration by Simon Vance. He read Tess as timid and frail instead of giving her voice a quiet strength and dignity. I enjoyed his reading of "Dune" but remember that it had a similar problem to "Tess": Vance just doesn't do women's voices well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin MADISON, WI, United States 10-11-13
    Robin MADISON, WI, United States 10-11-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Thank goodness I didn't live then!"
    If you could sum up Tess of the d'Urbervilles in three words, what would they be?

    atmospheric, foreboding, emotional


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    It had to be Tess even though I wished she could have fought more for the things she wanted. She was a pure soul and a hard worker at the same time.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Simon Vance is always good. Here he rendered dialect excellently and even made the descriptions of rural life interesting


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was so relieved that I don't have to spend the winter digging up turnips in the rain and snow, and that women have more choices and control over their lives today.


    Any additional comments?

    I am a fan of 19th century fiction such as Dickens, George Eliot and others, so it was interesting to compare this. For someone not familiar with the era, they might find this slow going.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer North Las Vegas, NV, US 02-08-13
    Amazon Customer North Las Vegas, NV, US 02-08-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Great reading....terrible story"
    Would you be willing to try another book from Thomas Hardy? Why or why not?

    I have read Far From the Madding Crowd and I found it more enjoyable.


    Any additional comments?

    I find that with books set in theis era it is easier to "read" with an audiobook. I like to read the book while listening and it really helps my comprehension. I highly recommend this tactic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ásdís Siglufjörður, Iceland 10-29-12
    Ásdís Siglufjörður, Iceland 10-29-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Sorry!"

    It is a dull story and far too long. The Tess of the d'Urbervilles is not at all interesting or fun.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Matthew
    nottingham, United Kingdom
    1/25/09
    Overall
    "classic"

    one of the best books ive read in a long time, beautifully written and historically interesting

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
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