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Ten Nights in a Bar-Room is temperance novel that helped demonize alcohol.
In the story a miller gives up his mill and opens a tavern.
The narrator visits intermittently over the years and charts the changes in the proprietor and the town due to the negative influence of alcohol.
The novel tells the story of Tess whose fate is changed when her ne'er-do-well father tries to improve the family fortune via a misguided association with a local well to do family. Hardy's writing produces such empathy for Tess that one is compelled to continue reading even though it is unbearable to imagine where the story will go.
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