While I deeply pity Tess and Jude's dilemma, it always seems as if the author had had his fun of playing his tricks on them, as if he put this dark cloud on their destiny.
I found the two earlier tragedies (Return of the Native and Mayor of Casterbridge) more fun to read. They feature these sexy ladies (Eustacia and Lucetta), and the characters move like they're in some kind of play by Shakespeare. I couldn't help but cheer while reading them curse the gods, faint and suffer.
In the earlier books there's also this strong sense of place. You can perceive Hardy's pleasure of giving his setting's details. Whether in desolate wastelands or a thriving town you feel as if you're there.