My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hardy is one of those authors who is neither poet nor novelist but an amalgamation of both, for his prose is poetic and his poetry is so condensed that 50 lines of poetry is as rich as a novel. Tess is no exception to this: Hardy paints a (view spoiler)[beautiful yet tragic (hide spoiler)] picture of life in rural southwestern England through the eyes of a dairymaid, Tess Durbyfield, who is a direct descendant of a knight from an old Norman family, D’Urberville. Even a casual read of Tess has the potential to inspire lingering and thoughtful questions: Who gets to be rich, who gets to be poor, and who gets to decide? What power does a woman in Victorian culture have to make choices for the good of herself and her family? Who suffers from cultural double standards? What of all of this continues to resonate throughout today?