Saturday, September 06, 2008

What I'd do if I swapped places with Tess

I've been watching Lost in Austen, which for those of you who either don't get ITV or don't get Austen (you're probably male), is about a modern woman who finds herself swapping places with Elizabeth Bennet and getting stuck in the middle of Pride and Prejudice. And it got me thinking. The girl playing Lizzie (who we didn't see much of in the first ep: I'd really like to see how she gets on in modern Hammersmith) is Gemma Arterton, who is also playing Tess of the d'Urbervilles in a new TV adaptation this autumn. So, naturally my brain goes, "What if a modern woman swapped places with Tess? What if I did?"

Oh, the worlds of fun (and not, for once, a rant about Tess The TSTL Doormat). For a start, pious, naive Tess would last about thirty seconds in a modern world. And me? Well, I'd pick the rich, tasty and exciting Alec d'Urberville--a man who makes it clear he wants Tess to be his mistress and showers her family with gifts and money on more than one occasion. He takes care of her financially, and is never less than honest in his intentions (even if the intentions themselves are less than pure). I'd shoot Angel Clare, who is the very worst example of a romantic hero I can think of (marry a girl, confess you had an affair before marriage, then when she confesses the same thing, tell her she's too wicked for you to live with, and bugger off, leaving her penniless and alone? Ooh, baby, come I can punch you in your smug, hypocritical face).

Which novels would you like to be dropped into? Which ones would you fix? And which ones could you happily ride out to the end, knowing you'd make the same choices as the heroine?


  1. Alec trumps Angel-Clare every time. That bloody hypocrite deserved castrating, in my opinion. As if you'd pick him over Alec.

    I think I'd quite like to be dropped into Wuthering Heights. Firstly because I really love it, and secondly because someone needs to give Heathcliffe a good slap.

  2. I had to study Tess "Oh, my God, I'm too beautiful, I must shave off my eyebrows" D'Urberville in my last year of highschool for my leaving exam. I read the first chapter, threw the book at the wall and refused to read the rest. Writing a 500 word essay on the stupid cow in 40 minutes wasn't easy... so I just ranted about how she was a fantastic example of a TSTL heroine.

    *shiver* Just thinking about her now makes me want to scream!

  3. Naomi, he does, doesn't he? I confess I never read Wuthering Heights. The closest I got was that Kate Bush song, and then I read that Heathcliff killed puppies and thought, "Hmm, not my ideal hero, perhaps give it a miss." That and the unintelligible film I saw with Juliet Binoche trying to do a Yorkshire accent.

    Lexxie, I based my GCSE papers on the basis that Tess was TSTL and deserved everything she got, and whaddaya know: I got an A! I do know I was the only one in the class to have read the whole thing. When I think of the wasted hours I'll never get back!

    A year or two later there was a TV adaptation, and a friend of mine said, "Oh, it's such a beautiful love story." She wished she hadn't: I ranted for about twenty minutes, and after that she stuck to Mr Darcy.