I just finished Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. It took me awhile to get into this book. First, because the copy I had downloaded was riddled with typos and strange grammar. Secondly, because I am used to more contemporary novels and it took me a little while to get the hang of the language. I ended up finding a different version of the book online which made reading it so much easier. Once I got past that hurdle, I was able to really get into the story. I really enjoyed the book, despite the fact that I found myself getting angrier and angrier at the circumstances that Tess kept finding herself in.
From here on out this post could be filled with spoilers, so consider yourself warned. It broke my heart that this poor girl was never able to catch a break and she was taken advantage of by almost every person she meets, including her parents. First her parents send her away so she can claim some supposed, ancient, familial claim that they are sure will better their circumstances. In doing that she is exposed to Alec, who also takes advantage of her innocent nature in the worst way before she is sent back home, in ruin. Back at home, her parents seem to just hold her in contempt because she wasn't able to come home with a 'proper' husband, just an illegitimate baby. It seems that the baby inherited his mother's luck and becomes deadly ill soon after birth. The whole scene where Tess is trying to get her baby a baptism before he dies, only to be refused by her father is heartbreaking. I could feel her desperation when she takes it upon herself to baptize the baby and then asks the priest if it's 'just as good'. When she meets Angel you hope that finally she'll be able to have something good in her life, something she actually deserves, and I really hoped Angel would forgive her for her past, especially since she was taken advantage of. However, Angel disappointed me more than everyone else, including Alec. He was a hypocrite and to treat her the way he did after confessing that he'd committed the very same sin was just beyond cruel.
I'll admit that when Alec came back into the picture I really held onto the hope that he was sincere in his approach to Tess. That he really felt remorse and was trying to earn redemption for his act. As the story progressed you could see that it was not the case. He was back to his old self, lying and manipulating Tess to get what he wanted from her and I was mad that she fell for it, again. I wanted her to be older and wiser but in the end she fell right into his plot and it led to her ultimate downfall.
So, I liked it, despite being incredibly angry and sad about the outcome. Not everything has to have a happy ending and I'm finding that the ones that don't are usually the ones I like the best. That's just me though, maybe I'm too old for fairytale endings.
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