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TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES BY THOMAS HARDY

Four reasons we love this tale of love, destruction and murder

• “Don’t do it, Tess!” We find ourselves shouting this an awful lot throughout the book. Tess Durbeyfield is a young country girl who is the victim of the lust and greed of pretty much every man in her life, and the appalling double standards that existed for men and women in 19th century Britain.

• Angel Clare. He is Tess’s love interest and in a story with few good men, he’s a beacon of hope (mostly). One Sunday, Tess and her fellow milkmaids are walking to church when they encounter a flooded lane. Angel carries each of them across, leaving Tess until last. It’s one of our favourite water-based romantic moments in literature.

• Female friendships. One of the few glimmers of hope in Hardy’s tragedy is Tess’s friendship with the women she works with at the dairy farm. Izzy, Retty and Marian are all in love with Angel Clare but they know he only has eyes for Tess.

• Bad omens. You know things aren’t going to turn out well in a Hardy novel, mainly because of all the bad omens. When Tess falls asleep at the reins of the family horse at the beginning of the novel, her white dress is splattered with the horse’s blood, symbolising the trouble that lies ahead.

Tess Of The d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (Bounty Books, £3.99)

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