So I read this for book club. And it was REALLY PAINFUL. Basically I hated all the characters, including the narrator. Oh wait, that’s a lie, I approved of Angel’s parents. But everyone else. GOOOOOOOOSHHHHHHHHHH. *headdesks*
I know this is a classic. And it’s technically good, I’m sure. I just want to throw it on the floor and throw drinks at it. Several times.
GAHHHHHHH. WHY? WHY DOES THIS EXSIST? WHY DO-
Ahem. You can see this book elicits strong emotions in me. The basic plot- which I am not going to worry about spoiling, seeing as the book was published like a hundred and twenty years ago, is that this really innocent girl, Tess, gets guilted by her family into going away to work. Where she is seduced/raped- it’s kinda unclear- by her employer. She promptly leaves the job and goes home, and then then we skip ahead a year to where she’s feeding her baby. Who she hasn’t named yet? The baby falls ill and the priest won’t come out and baptize it, because it’s the middle of the night and the baby is illegitimate, and so she baptizes him herself and names the child Sorrow, and then Sorrow dies, then to be buried in the unconsecrated part of the churchyard. This is the “happy” part of the novel.
We go on to where she goes away to work, and Hardy basically takes a couple hundred pages to rhapsodize about the wonder of pagan-times-as-empodied-by-dairy-farming, and how they’re so much better than modern morals. He also thinks that red and white fat arms on girls with big eyes are hawt, if you know what I mean, and dust caught by sunlight is, like divine. I really was trying to just get the words down my brain at this point, and not shout at the page. But while Tess is all busy being a pagan goddess in the sunlight and the butter, some disillusioned poor agnostic sap named Angel who thinks too much is falling in love with her because she’s so pure. She says she can’t marry him because of her past, but he’s all about how nothing in her silly little pure past (don’t try to think, woman, it makes your brow furrow, and that’s unattractive) could possibly stop his love for her, and he doesn’t let her tell him what she’s talking about. Of course then when they get married he goes Lolz, I got seduced by this old woman once, morals are for teh lose, you forgive me, right? And she cries and says of course I do, and because you’re so good and modern you’ll forgive me for my sins, and I know you will, because it’s exactly the same as your sins!
AND THEN HE LEAVES HER AND GOES TO BRAZIL TO CATCH FEVERS.
Meanwhile, Tess is destitute and pulling turnips, and her old employer Alex finds her again, and is hanging around, and I really hate this book, and then her family ends up homeless, and Alex says he will support her family if she becomes his mistress, and then she does, and then it all goes to heck in a hand-basket.
Angel comes back, and Tess kills Alex, and then runs after Angel and says “you’ll love me because I killed him, right?” Angel, of course, pets her hair and bring her away to live like a married couple in a house they break into, and then they go hang out in Stonehenge and the police catch her and he pets her hair and says soothing agnostic things and lets them arrest her, and then they hang Tess and Angel marries her younger sister. Who is like what, sixteen? Seventeen?
So yeah. You may have picked up a slight vibe of me disliking this tome. It’s a true vibe. Hardy MORALIZES the whole freaking time. About how stupid modern morals are, which might be true, but look, WE ARE IN A DIFFERENT TIME. MORAL ISSUES ARE DIFFERENT. I REALLY DONT” NEED TO HEAR YOU RANT AS A NARRATOR FOR HOWEVER MANY FREAKING PAGES THIS IS ABOUT THE INJUSTICE OF LOOKING DOWN ON SINGLE MOMS. I ASSURE YOU, HARDY, WE’VE MOVED PAST THAT PARTICULAR PREJUDICE. GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
I gave it two stars out of five. It’s my blog, darn it, I can like what I want. *glares at you* Ahem. The one GOOD thing I got from this book was how sometimes people can be led into doing “bad things” by stupid family and other events that are really outside their control. Don’t judge people. (Lest you be judged. OH WAIT, you mean that’s a EXILING BIBLE VERSE? Hardy didn’t COME UP WITH THIS IDEA? Who knew. WHO knew.)