One of Thomas Hardy’s most famous novels is the story of an innocent young woman victimized by the double standards of her day.
Set in the magical Wessex landscape so familiar from Hardy’s early work, Tess of the d’Urbervilles is unique among his great novels for the intense feeling that he lavished upon his heroine, Tess, a pure woman betrayed by love. Hardy poured all of his profound empathy for both humanity and the rhythms of natural life into this story of her beauty, goodness, and tragic fate. In so doing, he created a character who, like Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina, has achieved classic stature.
“[Tess of the D’Urbervilles is] Hardy’s finest, most complex and most notorious novel . . . The novel is not a mere plea for compassion for the eternal victim, though that is the banner it flies. It also involves a profound questioning of contemporary morality.” —from the Introduction by Patricia Ingham