Set in the bleak, magical Wessex landscape so familiar from Hardy's early work, Tess's cruel story reveals circumstances slowly closing in on her as she attempts to grasp a few moments of happiness with her lover. Patricia Ingham is the author of "Thomas Hardy: A Feminist Reading".
Hardy wanted to understand women, and found, as I have done, how absorbing they are for a male novelist. He also loved pastoral force, and found it useful for conveying mood and condition. The dairy and the meadows of his Dorset descriptive passages bring fecundity and sensuality to the book, and the size of Hardy's spirit enabled him to get away with material that would fall risibly short in other hands. By the time the President of the Immortals has finished his sport with Tess, Hardy's recurrent theme, of the what-might-have-been of failed love, has enthralled us again. Review by Frank Delaney, whose books include 'The Amethysts' (Kirkus UK)