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Tess of the D'Urbervilles

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Tess of the D'Urbervilles, one of the great classics of English literature, is a novel by Thomas Hardy, first published in 1891. The poignant portrait of heroine Tess illustrates Hardy's deep understanding of women.

Warning: wikipedia contains spoilers

The story concerns a simple country girl, Tess Durbeyfield, whose father's pretensions to social status lead her into the company of the nouveau-riche D'Urberville family. Made pregnant by the rakish Alec D'Urberville, Tess returns home in disgrace, but the child she bears soon dies, leaving her free to leave her village once again to look for work. While employed as a milkmaid, she encounters the morally upright Angel Clare, who falls in love with her. Prior to their marriage, she attempts to be honest with him about her past, but he misunderstands and a tragic chain of events is set in motion.

The book has been adapted several times for television and film.

Abandoned by Angel, Tess is lured into a liaison with Alec D'Urberville, who comes back into her life by chance. When Angel returns, repentant, to reclaim her, she murders Alec in order to be with her legal husband. They go on the run together, but the police catch up with them at Stonehenge, in a memorable finale. Tess is hanged for the murder of Alec.

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