If I'd only known how much I would enjoy this book, I wouldn't have let it sit on my shelf for 5 long years!
I adore classics but it is hard for me to read a lot of them without feeling some indignation of the injustices dealt to women. Hardy presents us with Tess, a young woman who really doesn't have much control over her life. She is forced to sacrifice herself time and again for her family, including her child-like parents. Poor Tess. My heart really ached for her. Having to go through all she went through and never having any sort of justice handed to her was heartbreaking. Therein lies the problem of that society; the double standards between women and men, the Victorian ideal of purity for women only. Without revealing too much, I think I disliked Angel Clare almost as much as I disliked Alec D'Urberville; what a hypocrite and a coward.
Despite the tragedies in this story, I highly recommend this book. Hardy's prose is just wonderful. It turns out he was a naturalist and it shows by how well and uniquely he writes about the Wessex countryside where this novel is set. Additionally, his descriptions of people's feelings was wonderful.