Tess of The D’Ubervilles (1891)
Regarded by many as Hardy’s masterpiece, when the book first appeared in serialisation, and then in book form, it was met with mixed reviews as it challenged Victorian ideas of sexual morality. Tess is an innocent young girl until the day she goes to visit her rich 'relatives', the D'Urbervilles. Her encounter with her manipulative cousin, Alec, leads her onto a path that is beset with suffering and betrayal. When she falls in love with another man, Angel Clare, Tess sees a potential escape from her past, but only if she can tell him her shameful secret... essential reading for anyone that loves the classics and a great starting point for Hardy’s books.
“Beauty lay not in the thing, but in what the thing symbolized.”