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Extended Audio Sample Tess of the D’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Audiobook, by Thomas Hardy Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (82,160 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Thomas Hardy Narrator: Ralph Cosham Publisher: Craig Black Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2008 ISBN: 9781455190270
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Thomas Hardy’s novel of seduction and abandonment introduced his most memorable tragic heroine, the unworldly maiden Tess. On her morning journey to earn money for her impoverished family, Tess’ horse has an accident, forcing her to seek assistance from some newly rich relatives. There, she is vigorously pursued by Alec, who corners her in a field one night and takes advantage of her. After bearing a child who quickly dies, Tess meets and falls in love with Angel, a minister’s son who is infatuated with the image of Tess as the pure country maid. But when he learns the truth of her past, he shuns his new bride and leaves Tess once again to fend for herself in a world where she is only valued for her uses to others.

Explanatory Note to the First Edition of Tess of the D’Urbervilles:

“In respect of the book’s opinions and sentiments, I would ask any too genteel reader, who cannot endure to have said what everybody nowadays thinks and feels, to remember a well-worn sentence of St. Jerome’s: If an offence come out of the truth, better is it that the offence come than that the truth be concealed.”

Thomas Hardy, November 1891

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Quotes & Awards

  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles ranks as one of Hardy’s finest achievements.”

    Masterpieces of World Literature

  • “Lushly drawn, so sympathetically conveyed…Evocative descriptions are underpinned by a gripping story of love, loss, and tragedy.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Ralph Cosham’s narration of Hardy’s classic English novel captures the essence of naïve Tess, a poor, beautiful country girl. With textured characterizations and a seamless narrative, Cosham depicts Tess’ seduction and betrayal by Alec, a country nobleman. Cosham’s English accent and polished performance render the society and customs of the 1800s with a vividness that brings them to life…Cosham delivers the timeless appeal of Hardy’s tragic story of seduction and abandonment.”

    AudioFile

  • “The tragic story of a woman wronged by two men and by the harsh, repressive society in which she lives. Hardy’s most striking and tragic heroine, Tess is a woman of intense vitality and innate goodness and the author’s favorite character.”

    Barnes&Noble.com, editorial review

  • “Now considered Hardy’s masterwork, [Tess of the D’Urbervilles] departed from conventional Victorian fiction in its focus on the rural lower class and in its open treatment of sexuality and religion.”

    Merriam Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature

  • “Defiantly subtitled A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented, the novel expresses Hardy’s rejection of the conventional heroine of Victorian fiction.”

    The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English

  • “Hardy’s classic 1891 novel, about a young woman’s attempt at redemption following a scandal, demonstrates his fatalistic view regarding free will.”

    Library Journal

  • “[Tess of the D’Urbervilles is] Hardy’s finest, most complex, and most notorious novel…The novel is not a mere plea for compassion for the eternal victim, though that is the banner it flies. It also involves a profound questioning of contemporary morality.”

    Patricia Ingham, author of The Brontës

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Isobel | 2/15/2014

    " it was quite good i think. i'm not good at rating out of 5. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alana Taylor | 2/13/2014

    " I have mixed feelings on this book. there are things i extremely dislike about the story. I was determined to finish it at all cost of my sanity trying to find some way to understand where Tess was coming from. When i finished it i appreciated it for what it was, a classic story of abuse, love gone wrong and crappy ass parenting. with that said maybe some day in the future ill give it another whirl "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debra Nagy | 2/9/2014

    " This is a great classic that questions the morals and values of Victorian England. Beautiful imagery throughout the novel, and a wonderfully tragic tale. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Hiba | 1/27/2014

    " To say that Tess of the D'urbervilles is one of the most chauvinistic books I've ever read would be a complete understatement. This book made me want to tear my hair out and just bitch slap the hell out of everybody. I'd rather poke my eye out with a fork that to read this book ever again... Pardon my french, but this book fucking suck ass "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Parul Lahoti | 1/25/2014

    " Another old story which paints how women have evolved in the world. I saw Trishna and read this as it is the basis for the movie. Sad but interesting account of lost loves. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deborah Caldicott | 1/19/2014

    " Hard to get into, but worth it once you do. The second half is riveting, though in many ways frustrating and heart-wrenching. Good! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 1/17/2014

    " I enjoyed this book....lots of tragedy, but hope, as well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marjorie | 1/17/2014

    " Not what I thought, but I liked it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julianna | 1/15/2014

    " I just finished re-reading this one. Why I would put myself through such misery again, I do not know. Hardy really is a wonderful writer, but seriously, I need some prozac, or a puppy, or something remotely happy to pull me out of the completely depressing book coma I have just put myself in. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cruizer | 12/10/2013

    " Liked his ability to convey scenes so that I felt the easiness of the summer at the milk farm and the hardship of the winter at the grain farm. Beyond that, the topic is too depressing and in this day and age hard to sympathize with Tess. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bl | 7/1/2013

    " I'm just not a fan of Hardy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Berry | 4/22/2013

    " The story didn't really grip me, to be honest, and at times it just was a slow read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruby Nguyen | 12/9/2012

    " What? What? I LOVED the writing but such a sad story! It did not end well like I wanted. Alright that's enough pouting. That was my only complaint. It just didn't end "happily ever after." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew | 11/1/2012

    " They don't write 'em like that anymore. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 7/23/2012

    " could connect to the characters "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danielle Monroe | 6/5/2012

    " Classic. Thought provoking. Tragic. I can only read this one once, though. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Esther | 4/4/2012

    " Not a fan of Hardy's prose apparently. Also, pretty much everything about the storyline enraged me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 J | 1/17/2012

    " better than i thought it would be. not even close to as good as far from the madding crowd. but i enjoyed the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Madeleine | 6/21/2011

    " It's definately not a fast read, but Tess of the D'urbervilles is really a wonderful book. I totally recomend it "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shams | 6/1/2011

    " It's a good book, however not my type... 50/50. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura | 5/31/2011

    " The writing is well done, but this book is really quite depressing. I had a hard time getting through it, and I just felt depressed by the end.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ctb | 5/26/2011

    " One of the few books I've read twice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Greg | 5/18/2011

    " Another Thomas Hardy novel I enjoyed very much. Interesting story, interesting characters. Though a bit too long for a novel of its kind, it was a very good read, enjoying every page of it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clare | 5/17/2011

    " I went through a phase of reading anything I could get my hands on by Thomas Hardy (I was 17!). I still love this book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 5/17/2011

    " I really enjoyed it! Though I ended up not liking Angel in the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann | 5/16/2011

    " This is my all time favourite book. It stayed with me for days after I had finished reading it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bridget | 5/16/2011

    " A lot of times when I have violent hatred for a novel I end up reading it again and loving it. I anticipate that this will be one such novel, but boy howdy did T. Hardy piss me off as a writer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deepti | 5/12/2011

    " Supposedly Hardy's best book. Certainly the most touching and heart-wrenching. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Martianngray | 5/11/2011

    " This took me a while to get through. Tess I found to be a very frustrating character. I discussed it with a friend who studied this book for a class and she enjoyed it more than me. Maybe I needed to have a class that studied this book to really get more out of it..... "

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About the Author
Author Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), English poet, dramatist, and novelist, was born on the Egdon Heath in Dorset. He studied in Dorchester and apprenticed to an architect before leaving for London, where he began to write. Unable to find a public for his poetry, which idealized the rural life, he turned to the novel and met with success as well as controversy. The strong public reaction against some of his darker themes turned him back to writing verse. Today several of his novels are considered masterpieces of tragedy.

About the Narrator

Ralph Cosham (1936–2014), a.k.a. Geoffrey Howard, was a British journalist who changed careers to become a narrator and screen and stage actor. He performed in more than one hundred professional theatrical roles, and several of his narrations were named “Audio Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. He won seven AudioFile Earphones Awards, and in 2013 he won the coveted Audie Award for Best Mystery Narration for his reading of Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery.