Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of an impoverished family, must navigate a world of desire and romance once she meets Alec d'Urberville. The son of a rich widow, he takes a fancy to her and gets her a position as the poultry keeper on his family's estate. However, her good fortune is soon complicated by Alec's libertine ways, and Tess returns home shamed. Once recovered, she separates herself from the gossip by finding work at a dairy farm outside the village. There, she meets and falls for Angel Clare, the eligible youngest son of the local reverend. But as her life begins to change for the better, she is troubled by a moral dilemma: whether or not to tell Angel about her past. Set in the fictional county of Wessex, Tess of the d'Urbervilles reflects on issues of classism, industrialism, hypocrisy, and virtue. Often considered to be Thomas Hardy's masterpiece, it received mixed reviews upon its publication due to its frank discussion of female sexuality and the hypocrisy of Victorian morality.
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