I had to write a review just to bring up a rating that was unfairly knocked down by a handful of obtuse reviewers. I wasn't an English lit major like some of these reviewers, but I have read upwards of 10,000 books in my life -with a concentration on literature- and have to say that the descriptive writing in "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" is the most beautiful and poetic I have yet encountered. It is not the most exciting, nor the most stunningly transformative(that honour goes to "Altas Shrugged") book, but the construction and execution is exquisite.
The book is in fact slowly paced - so much so in the first couple of chapters that I was rebuffed the first time I started reading it. However, a little patience will grant you entry into the gorgeous spell Hardy invokes. Yes, it is a "victorian" novel, but the sublimity of the writing and of the plot's tragedy emancipates it from the staidness of the genre.
The upshot is that you shouldn't turn to this book if you want a fast paced thriller or "clever" writing. Read it if you want to cultivate your awareness of exceptional beauty; this book is for the cultured connoisseur, not needy readers.