I’m not entirely sure where to start with this novel. The fact that it is brilliant is unquestionable, but I’m a sucker for a happy ending so it was a little hard to bear. Pretty much from day one, Tess leads a life of woe: from the burden of her poor, chaotic family, fallen from their ancestors’ life of luxury, to the unmentionable seduction that ultimately leads to her downfall in society, romance and life. I wouldn’t have minded so much if she hadn’t been such a likeable character and not really at fault in these situations, or if she had ended up with the happiness she deserved! On the bright side, Hardy’s writing is excellent. He captures the scenes beautifully, impressing perfect images of summer days in the lush valley into our minds, although this admirable technique enables him to portray the full extent of Tess’ despair and suffering, both physically and emotionally, which in itself is fairly heart-wrenching. I don’t want to say much more for fear of ruining it… It’s a truly great read but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who craves a satisfying conclusion, especially regarding this long-suffering eponymous heroine.