Tess Durbeyfield is a poor young woman living with her peasant family. Her days are simple, caring for her parents and aspiring to a quiet and happy life. But when her beauty catches the eye of the licentious Alec Stoke-d'Urberville, he takes advantage of her trusting nature and leaves her alone and pregnant. Tess is forced to cope with a sick infant and a society that vilifies unwed mothers. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, the handsome preacher's son Angel Clare, she struggles with the damager her dark past could do to her future.
Against the rural backdrop of southern England, Thomas Hardy weaves a tale that challenges sexual morality and unjust gender standards. It is a novel far ahead of its time.