Read by Martin Shaw & Lindsay Duncan (Abridged: 2hrs 25mins)
Set in Hardy's Wessex, Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a moving novel of hypocrisy and double standards. Its challenging sub-title, "A Pure Woman", infuriated critics when the book was first published in 1891, and it was condemned as immoral and pessimistic. The novel tells the story of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor and dissipated villager, who learns that she may be descended from the ancient family of d'Urbeville. In her search for respectability, her fortunes fluctuate wildly, and the story assumes the proportions of a Greek tragedy. It explores Tess' relationships with two very different men, her struggle against the social mores of the rural Victorian world which she inhabits, and the hypocrisy of the age.
Thomas Hardy Biography