rating: 4 of 5 stars
I quite enjoyed this book, especially when I thought of Jude the Obscure as I read. The story, as per Hardy's style, is tragically beautiful. I don't know if I like it more than Jude, but it made me think. I didn't know who to blame--Alec, Angel, Joan, John, Tess herself, society--and just like in Jude the Obscure, the main character is so tragically complex and ill-fated. This is definitely a book that I will think about long after I finish it. Just as in Jude, Hardy seems to criticize society the most, but the individual characters are so beautifully developed and multi-dimensional that you can't help but wonder how much agency the characters are supposed to have. Are they left to the winds of fate or do they lack the simple ability to rise above society? What are the forces at work here?
Regardless of these uncertainties surrounding the book, Hardy doesn't disappoint. I think I need a happier book on my next-to-read list, though :)
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PS--This is my 300th post!!!