Tess of the d’Urbervilles is the 19th century novel lately thought to be one of the inspirations of E .L.James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. It depicts the life of an impressionable, naive, somewhat educated young woman, who yearns to be free to live her own life, but finds herself constricted by the bonds of the sexual, religious and socially hypocritical customs that have surrounded her from birth.
Considered a Victorian Realist, Thomas Hardy criticized social constraints on those living in the 19th and early 20th century through most of his novels. He was also a renowned poet and many of his works were set to music by notable English composers. He was an Anglican who questioned traditional Christian views and had difficulty reconciling the ‘horrors of pain’ with the so called existence of a loving God. He also showed in his writings a fascination with the supernatural even as he held a strong emotional attachment to the Christian liturgy and rituals which were a major influence in his childhood. The narrator, Jennifer M. Dixon, is a board-certified Music Therapist and Licensed Counselor, veteran of Michigan Opera, Piccolo Opera and Community Theater.