I’m super stoked to read this one because fun fact:
When Mom, my Aunt Tracy, and I were in England, we visited a town called Bere Regis. It’s the part of England the Turbervilles are from. My aunt’s maiden name is Turbeville. We stopped in the town’s church and everyone was really excited because they’d met Turbevilles before, but not from the United States.
Anyway, John Durbeyfield is on his way home when a parson passes by and refers to him as “Sir John”. When John asks why the parson called him sir, the parson explains that he is descended from a prominent family called the D’Urburvilles. John is so happy about his family’s newfound claim to fame that he hires a coach to take him home, shouting at the top of his lungs about the good news. This doesn’t really go over well with Tess because her friends tease her about it, and she has to come up with some sort of explanation for her father’s behavior.
The Durbeyfield household is in a consistent state of somewhat-organized chaos; Tess has lots of younger siblings, and it is hard for her mother to keep up with all of them. It’s reminiscent of the Weasley household except Mrs. Durbeyfield seems to be overwhelmed easily and therefore constantly at risk of having a nervous breakdown. However, when John comes home and announces the family’s change in fortune, Joan Durbeyfield has a one-track mind: a good marriage for Tess. That is, Tess would stake the claim to kinship and marry into the D’Urbervilles. No one else really supports the idea.
Everything changes when the Durbeyfield’s horse, Prince, dies because they don’t have a way to sell their hives in town anymore. The only option seems to be to appeal to their newfound relations. As the head of the family, John thinks he should go, but Joan – still hoping for a good marriage for Tess – convinces him that Tess should go. And so she does.
When Tess knocks on the door of the D’Urberville residence, a man answers. When Tess tells him that she is looking for his mother, he replies that she is invalid – and therefore not worth talking to. Alec puts her to work with the chickens.
Honestly, Alec is kind of a jerk. Not only does he mock Tess as his cousin, but he is determined to love her. And she isn’t having any of it because she just met him.