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Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible

When John Durbeyfield discovers a family connection to the ancient Norman family, the D'Urbervilles, the fate of daughter Tess is transformed.

Sent by her ambitious parents to visit her wealthy D'Urberville cousins, Tess attracts the attention of the unscrupulous Alec. Seduced and discarded by him and alone in the world, she finds work as a milkmaid and the love of Angel Clare. Yet his love cannot accept the truth about Tess's past.

Considered Hardy's masterwork it presents a major departure from conventional Victorian fiction, causing controversy and mixed reviews on first publication due to it challenging Victorian sexual morals. The work was subtitled 'A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented' as Hardy felt that its heroine was a virtuous victim of a rigid Victorian moral code.

Hardy considered it his finest book and due to his enlightened and forward thinking, the story has captivated audiences since it was first released.

Thomas Hardy was an English writer and poet in the Romantic era who was greatly influenced by Charles Dickens and William Wordsworth.

Narrator Biography

Having started his career as a leading child actor, Peter Firth received a Tony Award nomination for his performance in Peter Shaffer's play Equus (1973) at only 21. He later starred with Richard Burton in its film adaption earning him a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and an Academy Award nomination. His other film work has included roles in Pearl Harbor (2001) and The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005). He is best known for his role as Sir Harry Pearce in the BBC show Spooks (2002-2011) appearing in every episode of the show's 10 series. Recent roles have included Jacob Marley in the BBC's Dickensian series (2015) and Ernest Augustus in ITV's drama series Victoria (2016). He has narrated several audiobooks and starred in Audible's multicast drama Amok.

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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A classic that never gets old

Tess, I love you!
Peerless narration. It's incredible how succinctly these characters communicate. Just brilliant.

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Not for me

Didn’t love the narration or the story very much. I would go for it if I were a fan of Jane Austin

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Claire
  • 2010-04-11

Peter Firth gets this book

Peter Firth played Angel Clare in Polanski's film version of this novel. His reading demonstrates great affection for Hardy's characters, and an understanding of the many nuances of the story. Don't worry if it seems slow to begin with, if you let the plot unfold, there is plenty of excitement and tragedy in store. Originally published as a serial, each phase builds up to its own climax, which makes for pleasant and interesting listening. Definitely not a "boring 19th century novel."

20 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ron L. Caldwell
  • 2010-02-13

Luscious

A heartbreaking story possesses both the clarity of rural life and the confusion of the epic struggles of a human heart. Tess and Angel Clare are so beautifully realized that the frustration one feels with them becomes all-too-real. The narration of this version, by Peter Firth, is among the best in the audible.com catalog that I've encountered so far. Tess is a book to read and re-read with your ears, eyes, mind, and heart.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Bonny
  • 2016-01-26

Heartbreakingly beautiful

I nearly gave up on this halfway through. While Peter Firth does a good job with the characters, I found his reading too halting, with so many pauses that the language did not flow, and I had trouble connecting the sentences. This is not usually a problem in listening to Hardy. I switched over to Davina Porter's narration and was riveted for the second half of the book. I don't think this was entirely due to Peter Firth's narration. I think the first half of the book (prior to Tess's marriage) is overlong and repetitive. My advice is to stick with it; the rest of the book is more than worth it!

What a skilled and complex rendering of a good woman victimized by men's response to her beauty, and the double standard of sexual mores. And what an evocative and intense description of the love between two people and the very human inability to transcend judgment and to forgive those we love. This is such a beautiful book, with Hardy's exquisite prose and descriptive skills. I highly recommend Davina Porter's narration. Her voicing of Tess is so simple, yet so infused with feeling, and it brought me to tears more than once.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Melinda
  • 2011-03-09

Ripples of either holding or releasing a grudge

Well written and artistically read, this book illustrates in story form the ever-enlarging circles of refusing to forgive a wrong. The beautiful contrast is seen in Tess.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-06-27

I loved it.

I couldn’t put it down. It was so wonderful to listen to. It pulls at the heartstrings.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-07-22

perfection!

There couldn't have been a better narration of this hauntingly tragic novel. I definitely recommend this version.

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  • Adam F
  • 2017-11-19

Tragically Unbelievable

The writing is excellent and Peter Firth is perfect. It certainly was a depressing book and Hardy only shows a slight ray of hope for happiness. I found the ending unbelievable and felt a more natural ending would have made the story better. I wanted something for the characters that Hardy never delivered on although perhaps that elevates the book. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys nineteenth-century English literature.

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  • Jannette B. Favela
  • 2017-05-16

Loved it.

I felt bad for poor tess, punished for being naive and so I'll prepared for life yet made to endure such a hard one.

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  • Elise
  • 2015-10-26

Classic story

What made the experience of listening to Tess of the D'Urbervilles the most enjoyable?

Gripping story of life in by gone days. The heroine is beautiful and her beauty is a negative. Hardy captures eternal human nature in his writing, painting a vivid picture of love, lust, jealousy and fidelity.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not possible

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kim Holahan
  • 2010-08-07

A wonderful classic!

I had read this in high school, and, even though I couldn't remember the plot, always remembered it as a story I liked it. This audible version was delightful and I truly enjoyed my listen.

7 people found this helpful