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25th October 2022

A long book to curl up with this winter

As it gets colder, here’s my recommendation for a classic tragedy novel you can get into this autumn and winter, maybe with a hot chocolate by your side
A long book to curl up with this winter
Photo: Isla Moore @ The Mancunion

You’ve suddenly found yourself in autumn and, as the outside chills and darkens, you’re spending more time indoors. Eventually, TikTok gets repetitive and you have scrolled so far down the ‘For You’ page that you can’t understand how you’re still being shown new videos. Spoiler alert – the TikTok videos will never stop, so you have to!

It’s time to relax in a way that makes you feel a little more… productive. Be swept away this frosty season with a novel that warms your heart. The best book to do this? Thomas Hardy’s classic: Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

Though a long read, if given patience, Tess of the d’Urbervilles will more than prove itself worth your time. Rumour has it, it should take the average reader nine hours to read Tess; so here are nine reasons to read this tragic, beautifully written book.

1. It’s a tragedy

Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a truly tragic story. Tess, the heroine, experiences terrible situation after terrible situation, none of which are her fault. Poor Tess becomes a victim to men time and time again, and perhaps her sad story might make you feel better about the unfinished essay sitting open on your laptop. A typical uni student’s struggles pale in comparison to those of Tess.

2. It’s a slow burner

This slow burner of a novel will remind you of how satisfying it is to get truly engrossed in a book. You’ll want to focus and finish something for once. A rare occurrence nowadays as we all struggle with ever-decreasing attention spans. Think yoga for your brain.

3. It makes you look smart

Some people appear smart by finishing all their readings, but you can do better. You get to tell people that the last book you read was Tess of the d’Urbervilles. La de dah!

4. It’s got feminism

Sex Education’s Maeve claims to only like books with complex female characters – now you can be just like her!

It’s refreshing to read a book, especially one written by a man, in which the female protagonist is good, selfless and smart, and yet not completely flawless. When you turn away from the book in frustration that Tess could really be that naïve, remember that at least one of her conversations passes the Bechdel test! Pretty impressive for a book written in 1891.

5. It’s beautifully written

While a couple of Hardy’s long descriptions of the countryside may tempt you to put the book down every once in a while, you’re guaranteed to stumble across other passages so deep they could put Olivia Rodrigo’s lyrics to shame. Think in the style of Call Me By Your Name, A Room of One’s Own, or Little Women. Each have their own elaborated and expressive style that both draws you in and, at times, pushes you away.

6. It’s old but relevant

Hardy reminds you throughout the book that humans 150 years ago were humans, maybe even just like us?! The arguments and thoughts of the characters throughout the book feel astonishingly relevant and refreshing.

7. It’s a chilling ending

The ending is amazing and is guaranteed to give you chills. It’s like a Greek tragedy, horror movie and bittersweet romantic-comedy ending all rolled into one.

8. It’s *deep*

Hardy exposes the hypocrisy and misogyny of 17th-century English society in a thought-provoking way which proves him to be ahead of his time. It really makes the reader think about why women are so often blamed for the sins of men.

9. It’s a multi-seasonal read

It goes through every season, from winter to summer, so if you still haven’t finished it by spring, don’t worry, there’s no excuse to stop. It is a seasoned classic, all year round.

With all these reasons in mind, sit back, and enjoy your new winter read!

You can find Tess of the d’Urbervilles at Waterstones from £6.99 (excluding student discount). Or read our classic recommendations or our Classics Digested series!

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