Saturday, February 5, 2011

In Progress: Tess of the d'Urbervilles

I'm 50 pages into Tess and it's not as bad as I had feared. Not a rousing endorsement, I realize, but after two of my closest friends (including you) shuddered and said, "Ugh. The Victorians" when I mentioned this book, I was nervous. The language is a bit thick, but it's actually been a quick read so far. (Which is saying something for me, as I am not that fast of a reader!)

The groundwork is laid: Tess's peasant father stumbles upon a parson who tells him he is actually descended from royalty, but it doesn't do him any good, as there is no land or wealth to inherit, so he's stuck with his lot in life. He only hears the part about "royalty" and decides to party it up, even though, as the parson mentioned, there is nothing of value tied to the line anymore. He seems like a dufus.

Meanwhile, Tess is dancing at some town square May Day-style shindig (there is way more detail about this, but that's the gist of it) and some guy dances with another girl, but then notices Tess with interest on his way out. Perhaps we will see more of him in the future? (I would hope. Otherwise, this is a useless path we've gone down).

Back at the ranch (where "ranch" = "poverty-stricken hovel"), her father is hungover, so Tess and has to drive their cart to market. She leaves the house at 1am and ends up falling asleep at the reins. The resulting accident kills their family's horse and Tess takes full responsibility for the misfortune. Guilt-ridden, she agrees to the plan her father has hatched: visit a distant d'Urberville relation in hopes of ingratiating herself to them and... perhaps get married off to nobility? Tess abhors the idea of this, but wants to make up for killing the horse.

And that's where I've left off.

Huh. More has happened than I realized -- maybe this "writing about books" thing is going to be really good for me!

Meanwhile, I'll tell you right now that I am dreading what is going to happen to Tess. The blurb on the back says she is "victimized by lust, poverty, and hypocrisy" and I'm nervous that "victimized by lust" is a euphemism for "rape." I'm going to be super pissed off at this book if Tess gets raped. Of course, given the Roman Polanski movie connection... yeah. That doesn't bode well.

On a lighter note... I found a Treasure From the Past in this book (I also found one in the last book -- a Post-it note with my full name from high school written on it in a hand I do not recognize as well as "9L". I have no idea what that meant.)

This one is way better than that and Kaesea wants to show it to you:

Hey, Kaesea, let's get a closer look at that -- is that a... boarding pass stub?

Why, yes! It is!

My thoughts when I found this:

"Wow. There's no year on this. Wonder when it's from. But, oh, hey -- it's from 28FEB of that year. That's cool, because I have to have this book done by Feb 28! I wonder where my grandpa was going... looks like probably Detroit Metro to La Guardia. Probably a connection, since he did a lot of overseas travel... Hey... wait a minute... what does that say... ?"

Smoking: YES.

Holy wow. It's difficult to remember a time when people were allowed to smoke on planes, but here's the proof! Nuts, eh?

(It also makes a good bookmark. Don't need bookmarks for Kindle books, but then you also don't find relics from the past wedged in the Kindle, either. Heh.)


  1. Kelly,

    It's funny you mention the smoking on planes, last night I was channel surfing and landed on "Midnight Run." This is one of many movies that I literally must stop and watch when I find it on cable (also: Back to the Future, Con Air, and anything with Julia Roberts). Anyways, there's a scene at the end where Robert DeNiro is smoking a cigarette *in the airport*! So weird!

    Glad to hear Tess is moving along nicely. I hope she doesn't get raped, either! Yeeks. I guess if it does happen, it's likely to be not as graphically portrayed in a modern novel?

    Good luck with that!

    PS How do you get Kaesea to pose with these things? It's hilarious. Give that cat a good face brushing for me, won't ya?

  2. K,

    That ticket stub also brought back fond memories of the dot matrix printer. If only you had found a sheet of paper lined on either side with perforated holes! Good times!


  3. I've never seen Con Air. Guess I'll have to watch it now!

    As for Kaesea posing, he's just really easy-going. If he's resting somewhere, I'll just put stuff on/near him and he's like, "Oh? Okay." Sometimes he gets annoyed and leaves if I push *too* much, but not this time. I just stuck that ticket there and started snapping photos. He's used to having his photo taken, so I think that helps. Biscuit is *far* more difficult to photograph. Because, you know, he's nuts.

    As for the ticket, I love the dot matrix action. Also, what you cannot see in the photo is that it's perforated all the way around the ticket -- so it's been torn from a larger sheet. To the left must be the portion of the boarding pass that they keep. I'm guessing to the top and bottom are other passengers' boarding passes. And, as you mentioned, the perforations on the right probably *are* from the tractor-feed edges being torn off!

    On to the book...
    It's funny you say that about the potential rape description not being very graphic, because I was thinking the *same* thing yesterday! She's just met this total asshat, but the way they describe his creepiness, you almost have to dig to figure out what an jerk he is! When that happened, I thought, "This guy could probably rape her and the flowery language would make the action difficult to divine."

    I guess if I can get through the sexual violence in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I'll be able to get through a Victorian rape scene.

    Meanwhile, you *know* that I cannot stand suspense, so I went ahead and googled Tess and rape to see if my fears are realized. It seems there are many discussions as to whether she gets "seduced" or "raped," soooo... I was right about the rape and it seems we're both right that it's not going to be super graphic.

    It's probably going to be the asshat she just met. He seems like a real sleaze.