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A masterpiece

I was completed fascinated by this masterpiece of story telling. It is historical by nature and to experience the emotional journey of a young girl in such different times. There are some remarkable surprises and many reminders of how certain things haven't changed.

Tess is vulnerable. The opposite sex is omnipresent and driven by their own needs. The tale revolves around her attempt to to remain true to herself. The reaction of the men she encounters says a lot about how misdirected society was.

Being able to survive the threat of genuine poverty is central to events. This is a different kind of hardship to today's standards. Expectations are far lower and more realistic. Enough food and roof is all that matters. The richer man sees her as an easy target. Her true lover is all too hung up on moral standards influenced by the religious fanaticism of his father and destroys the joy he finds.

Our heroine wishes to help her family financially and this leads her into a world all too ready to take advantage of her loyalty. The detail that Hardy gives us of rural life is absorbing. You can read this book to learn if nothing else.

I loved how the writing drew you close to Tess and you wish so much for her to find the happiness she deserves. Hardy's narrative voice is perfect and he makes you think long after reading.

Themes still relevant

This book spoke to me on so many levels. There is a wealth of unrealised dreams that has an uncanny way of touching many parts of your life.

A classic and as with most classics it has to be read with your mind set in the time of composition. Jude has aspirations that appeared quaint even in 1895. The world had begun to question organised religion and the hierarchal nonsense of the class system being used to judge ability and suitability. Oddly though, these themes still seem relevant in 2020.

Being unable to pursue your goals is something I remember about leaving school in a money driven society full of judgemental elders. It took me thirty years to start trying to achieve anything in the fields that really interested me.

And the dogmas of religion linger, deciding if behaviour is suitable based on stories from two thousand years ago. Fortunately, unhappy marriages don't have to be honoured because society disapproves. The stigma of divorce had been lifted and people can be with who they want. However, I'm sure this isn't the case everywhere.

So poor Jude is frustrated in his aims, he falls victim to his desires and receives no reward for his efforts. Hardy retains the ability to pull you along in his plight, surrounded by equally unhappy people burdened with expectation.

There are some shocking moments in this book and I found myself mentally shouting at the characters to get out of their shackles and see a better world that could be.