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.
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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