Oh, poor Tess!
I knew beforehand that this classic novel was a tragedy, and reading it was akin to watching a train wreck, but...I still held out hope until the second to last page!
Thomas Hardy wrote this novel in 1892 but, unfortunately, the themes are easily contemporary--particularly, the shame of the violated woman. Just see this article from Scary Mommy/Club Mid, which I just read this morning.
There is a ton of literary criticism out there about this book. Whatever Hardy's true feelings and intentions in and apart from the time in which he wrote, I came away from this piece of fiction with a hollow in the pit of my stomach. I felt the loss of Tess, on many levels.
The writing is wonderful, the story is intriguing and heart-wrenching. No wonder it's a classic.
Now I've got two film versions of the book on DVD from the library...