Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Good Soldier - Ford Madox Ford

The Good Soldier
This week is going to be all about the 100 Best Novels challenge. I am warning you right up front. 

I have not reviewed a book from the list in nearly two months. I have been caught up in book tours and other things. 

Honesty, I have been at a bit of a stand still with some of this project. The long, dreary winter has left me longing for light, cheery stories. Most of those classics...well, they just are not that. 

I know, I know. A little crazy coming from me, lover of sad, tragic endings.

Ford Madox Ford has two novels on the prestigious list, The Good Soldier being the first. The book has nothing to do with military men, as the title might suggest. Rather, it tells the tale of two marriages.

The narrator, John Dowell, shares the story as though you were sitting fireside with him. Pieces are aligned only as well human memory would allow them to be. As the story progresses, you see Dowell's understanding of the events come to fruition as well.

Dowell is married to Florence. They befriend Captain Edward Ashburnham and his wife Leonora while living in Europe. The foursome seem to be the best of friends and all genuinely good people. Slowly but surely, both Dowell and the reader realize that is far from the truth.

Both Ashburnham and Florence have a history of unfaithfulness, eventually leading them into an affair with one another. Leonora, who at first seems the dutiful, faithful wife herself, is willing to defend the family reputation and procure a "normal" life at nearly any cost.

Because of the narration style, the book feels slow-moving at times. And yet, it feels remarkably like having a conversation with Dowell. It is the right pace to match up with that style of story-telling.

The book fit well into the mold I have come to expect from the Modern Library list. Layered, rich, slow-moving, and enjoyable at times. I am wondering if, as I read through this list, I need to balance with even more entertainment-style books. Or different genres, at least. After all, to only eat meat, while delicious, is taxing on the system and unbalanced. I need lighter and different fare.

Or perhaps I just need warm weather. That balances me out just as nicely as a young adult novel, after all. Where are you spring?!

Pages: 368
Date Completed: January 31, 2014

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