I am slowly making my way through my list of books I wanted to read for 2018. If you want to check out my whole list, and read along with me you can find it here: https://livewritely.com/2018/03/28/top-10-books-i-want-to-read-in-2018/
When I saw Tess of the Road, the first thing that intrigued me was the visually dynamic front cover. It depicts a lone adventurer staring down the face of a dragon. So I thought Wow. Cool. This would be your typical fantasy, adventure story. It’s right up my alley.
I was wrong.
Or at least, partly wrong. This is an adventure story, but it’s cloaked in something entirely surprising. The main theme screaming you in the face, and if you still didn’t get it by the end, slaps you repeatedly until you bleed is: female empowerment. It oozes in the very fabric of Rachel’s writing.
The main character, Tess, is a seventeen year old girl brought up by a cowardly, cheating father, and a devout, religious mother who viciously hammers into Tess’s head all of the teachings of ‘The sins of the flesh’. If a woman falls into temptation she is damned for all eternity, and must live the rest of her life in penance for such crimes. If a man is tempted by a woman, it is simply in his nature and not his fault at all.
And Tess, being Tess, is rebellious, and a rule-breaker. She defies all of the trappings of social convention. She falls from grace in her family’s eyes by becoming pregnant at an early age, with an attractive scoundrel who flees from responsibility. The baby is, unfortunately lost, along with the innocence of Tess’s childhood.
As the newly labelled pariah of the family, Tess faces only two choices: submit herself to the cloth as a nun, or run away from her destiny to claw out a new path for herself. As you can tell from the title, she chooses to walk on the road. Along her travels she meets a philosophical nun, a cheery prostitute, an old friend, and an attractive cripple. Each person she meets teaches her something important about herself, and Tess discovers who she is along The Road.
She’s not defined by her ‘sins of the flesh’. She’s someone who refuses to be put into a box and ignored. She is a strong worker. Good person, and an even better friend. I recommend this book if you’re a similar lost soul, looking to find your own path in this journey we call life. Tess is by no means perfect, and as a reader I could relate to the moral struggles she faces.
Oh! And there’s also a giant mystical serpent. That’s pretty important as well. I won’t say anymore on that subject, as the book left on a cliffhanger. So, I too, shall let them remain a mystery for curious readers to discover for themselves.