30 day book challenge – day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving.

The obvious answer to this question is the Harry Potter series, however I don’t want to write about the same books in answer to every question.

So I put a little bit more thought into this, and took myself back to a time when I decided I should read more classics.  I didn’t feel too enthusiastic about this, but I thought I had a big gap in my reading by avoiding anything pre-20th century and so I borrowed Tess of the D’Urbervilles from the library to plug this gap.

I didn’t expect much of it when I sat down to read it.  I thought I would hate it and that I would have to force myself through a long, rambling story in which the plot gets lost in too much wordiness and archaic language.

I won’t lie – Thomas Hardy does ramble sometimes, it can get a bit wordy when he is describing landscapes and some of the language is archaic as you would expect.

But I loved it.

The story follows Tess, who is one of the simplest, kindest and genuinely warm characters I have ever come across in fiction.  But she has a terribly hard path in life.  After discovering that they are descended from the aristocratic family, the D’Urbervilles, Tess is forced to go and claim kin with distant wealthy relations following an accident in which the family’s horse (and so potentially their livelihood) is killed.  From this point onwards, Tess’ life goes on a downward spiral as she suffers the unwanted attentions of her cousin Alex and is forced to leave the D’Urbervilles.  It looks as if Tess’ luck has changed when she meets and falls in love with Angel Clare, but her brief happiness is cruelly snatched away when Angel discovers the truth about her past.

I absolutely adored Tess and I took her straight into my heart.  Hardy has created her so beautifully, that she becomes so real.  When she hurts, I hurt and when she is happy, I am happy for her.  She is wronged in so many ways that make me seeth with anger for her, and rail against the injustice when she seems to accept it as her just deserts.

This is a beautiful and tragic story of the life of a wonderful creation of fiction.  I loved this book not only for itself, but for changing my views towards reading the classics.  I picked an absolute corker to get me started and I haven’t looked back.  As a result of Tess of the D’Urbevilles I have let many more wonderful pre-20th century books into my life and onto my bookshelves.

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Posted on September 7, 2013, in Reading and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This is the way I felt when I read Gone with the Wind. I wasn’t expecting much from it — actually I was half-expecting to give up on it — but it was great. I still haven’t read anything pre-20th century since high school, but I am becoming more open to the classics. Someday I’ll let those books in.

    • Wow, I’m impressed that you’ve read Gone with the Wind – the sheer size of that book intimidates me! It took me a while to embrace the classics. I think something like Tess of the D’Urbervilles or Jane Eyre (if you weren’t too bashed over the head with that one in high school) are good places to start – good stories, likeable characters, well written and easy reads.

  2. Hi, I had read Hardy’s work once before-Jude the Obscure. Didn’t like it as much. However, I found Tess of the D’Urbervilles more engaging. I could forgive Hardy’s love for the rural landscapes and all because I could easily relate with it. My favourite was how he aptly brought out the milking routines. Classics…I love them! Was welcomed into that world by the father of them all-Dickens’ Tale of two cities

    • I bought Jude the Obscure a few months ago as it was a bargain I couldn’t resist! Reading the synopsis it didn’t really capture me as much as Tess so it it still sitting on my “to read” pile. A Tale of Two Cities is also on the pile – I had downloaded it onto my smartphone but with a book that size I would rather read it in paper form. Dickens is a fairly recent discovery for me – I have read only read Great Expectations and the collection of his Christmas stories, but I’ve really enjoyed what I have read so far.

  3. When books surprises you, you appreciate it more 🙂

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