This novel is set in impoverished rural Wessex during the Long Depression. Tess is the oldest child of John and Joan Durbeyfield, uneducated rural peasants. One day, Parson Tringham informs John that he has noble blood. Tringham, an amateur genealogist, has discovered that "Durbeyfield" is a corruption of "D'Urberville," the surname of a noble Norman family.
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