Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Good Soldier

Title: The Good Soldier

Author: Ford Madox Ford

Number of pages: 352

Started: 20 June 2011

Finished: 23 June 2011

Opening words:

THIS is the saddest story I have ever heard. We had known the Ashburnhams for nine seasons of the town of Nauheim with an extreme intimacy—or, rather with an acquaintanceship as loose and easy and yet as close as a good glove's with your hand. My wife and I knew Captain and Mrs Ashburnham as well as it was possible to know anybody, and yet, in another sense, we knew nothing at all about them. This is, I believe, a state of things only possible with English people of whom, till today, when I sit down to puzzle out what I know of this sad affair, I knew nothing whatever. Six months ago I had never been to England, and, certainly, I had never sounded the depths of an English heart. I had known the shallows.

Read the whole book here

Plot summary:

Set before the First World War, it tells the tale of two wealthy and sophisticated couples, one English, one American, as they travel, socialise, and take the waters in the spa towns of Europe. They are playing the game in style. That game has begun to unravel, however, and with compelling attention to the comic, as well as the tragic, results the American narrator reveals his growing awareness of the sexual intrigues and emotional betrayals that lie behind its fa├žade.

What I thought:

I always have a dilemma about reading “classics”. They are forever in my mind connected with having to read books for school. They are therefore not my ideal genre. Unfortunately, this book did nothing to redeem this genre for me. I found this book hard work to read and found it difficult to empathise with the characters. It had an intriguing premise behind the way the story was told, but for me it was not a book that I really enjoyed.


Sarah said...

Oh dear! And I was really envious when I saw that you had read this.

Strangely enough this book was mentioned in an article sent me today by AbeBooks. It was on a list of bleak books! (But apparently you can read it for irony... so they say.)

Random Reflections said...

Sarah - This just wasn't my kind of book. I know of others who have read it who really rate it though.

I think it is not my style of writing and I just couldn't get into this book. I was disappointed in my own conclusions!