February 20, 2011

Read With Us: Tess of the D'Ubervilles

The Bride by Gertrude Kasebier via here
 A few months back, I decided to join in on the book club Read With Me La Porte Rouge. For a while, I've wanted to be part of a book club but for one reason or another hadn't found the time or the right group, so I was excited when I came upon this book club, started by Nadia at La Porte Rouge, that focuses on classic literature that we could all blog about on our own time. This month's selection: Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy.

Having never read Hardy before, but being an admirer of Victorian era literature, I was eager to engross myself in this story of feminine woe and love's misfortune. From the very onset, Hardy is honest with his reader, writing descriptions with grave overtones and unhappy foreshadowing for our heroine Tess; for there really is not much good that comes to her. But it is not the tale's misfortune for which I kept reading through the most difficult of passages, but the hope for better things to come, the hope Tess found in her love for Angel.

The novel was largely viewed as a commentary on the social restraints of the Victorian era, but what I enjoyed the most was the over arching theme nature played throughout the story, whether good or bad. From the misfortune of the death of the family horse, Prince, and the wooded foggy area where Alec D'Uberville preys upon Tess to the lively milk cows and the fertile valley of the dairy farm where she falls in love with Angel; there isn't a page without description or reference to the natural world around her. In my mind's eye, so much of the nature around Tess affected how I imagined the story in my head; sort of like in The Wizard of Oz, Tess' life without Angel is all nature in black and white, but her life with him is nature in astoundingly bright technicolor.

I've gathered some images, that for me, capture the images and feelings I had while plowing through the emotional heaviness of this story.

 May Day celebration where Tess first spots Angel; via here

Keeping Poultry at the D'Uberville estate; via Justin D M flickr
Returning home with child - field work, via here
Falling in love - the Dairy Farm, via dcysurfer flickr
Engagement & Marriage, via A Cottage In The Woods
Estrangement & Correspondence, via French Larkspur
Waiting in Flintcomb Ash, via Crumpled Envelope
Fleeing with her love, via A Cottage In The Woods
Capture & Death, Stonehenge by Simon Marsden via art.com


  1. I love the images you've selected for the novel- each and everyone made me think of the corresponding moments associated with them and fall in love with the story over again. Beautiful idea and I hope you considering do more of these posts as we progress through other novels.

  2. i have been wanting to read your post glancing over it a few times last week but knowing that i had not finished reading i waited to read it.

    Your post about the book is lovely and yes i too feel that nature was a stong character in the book. living on a farm myself i related to so much yet dreamed of others. i am still in the process of putting my thoughts
    together but so glad to have read this post, i too was new to Hardy, his way of speaking to us, was interesting and welcomed.

    i can share this on laprote rouge if you would like!

  3. wow, lovely post about Tess :)



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