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by Ford Madox Ford

This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.
Download The Good Soldier (Bibliobazaar Reproduction) epub
ISBN: 0554364425
ISBN13: 978-0554364421
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Classics
Author: Ford Madox Ford
Language: English
Publisher: BiblioLife; Folio Soc.ed edition (August 18, 2008)
Pages: 220 pages
ePUB size: 1421 kb
FB2 size: 1132 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 562
Other Formats: txt docx mbr txt

One of the greatest examples of the spoken-word novel, The Good Soldier succeeds where authors as great as Conrad have failed. Our narrator does not tell a straight, linear story. No. He forgets things, comes back to them later, revives a subject you thought dead and meaningless only to shed new light on it and make it important.
Perhaps the greatest effect the book has is the after-taste. When reading the book, I found it slow and boring. Once I set it down, though, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I had to read it again. And once I began again, I found myself reading it slowly once more, though not from boredom, but rather because I wanted to savor it and take it all in.
I encourage anyone who has begun this book only to find themselves tired of it rather quickly to stick with it. You'll be glad you did. You'll find yourself buying copies for friends to read, as I do. This book truly gets under your skin.
Ford - blasts the reader with words as a torrent from a fire hose. It is almost soap-opera-like in its ‘gossipy’ tone and conceited demeanor and you get put-off by it after 20-30 pages. But wait! (there’s more) he’s using a very clever approach to storytelling, the “unreliable narrator” (Huh- what? Yeah, me too, I had to go read the Wiki article on this book, don’t skip that unless you are already a ‘smarty pants’ Lit. major). Ford peels the onion layer by layer not just from the outside in - but the inside-out as well, and simultaneously.

As the first words of Part IV, Chapter I, he says, “I HAVE, I am aware, told this story in a very rambling way so that it may be difficult for anyone to find their path through what may be a sort of maze. I cannot help it.”

The story seems to start in the middle and is told by jumping ahead and back so you will have to pay attention to “keep up”. He begins with some ‘raw’ observations about his friends, the Ashburnhams, Edward & Lenora as well as his own wife, Florence. But, you will see these observations focus, change, refine, and morph to something different throughout the telling of the tale (the unreliable narrator).

And for this reader at least, the telling is MORE the point than the tale itself. You’ll see what I mean if you stick with this novel. I watched (?) imagined (?) my own rating for this book go from a very solid ★★☆☆☆ to a full ★★★★★ during the course of the read.

The story is set in the early 1900’s: the narrator is an idle American - John Dowell - recently married to an upwardly mobile Connecticut girl (…”where as you know, they are more old-fashioned than even the inhabitants of Cranford, England…”) and moved to England where they meet the Ashburnhams. It is a tale of broken hearts - both figuratively and literally! In fact, Ford’s original title was “The saddest story I have ever heard” but, his publisher was not enamored and so it is kept in the opening sentence. Edward Ashburnham is a British soldier - and by all accounts a ‘good’ one and the central character in the story. Watch how your own opinions dramatically change about virtually all of the characters during the read as it is ‘unpeeled’. Read it - I'll bet you’ll like it.
I see that this book has many mixed reviews. I can also see why; it's pretty unusual. Let me just say before I go on that I read this book because it was on the MLA's list of the 100 best books of the 20th century, and I'm glad I did.

I'm not going to summarize the book. If you're looking here, at this old obscure book, then you probably know about it somewhat already. What I am going to say is that I gave this book five stars because it was unlike anything I'd encountered before.

The writing is lively, quirky, and eccentric at times, yes. The writing also jumps around, from past to present to past again, almost randomly. And reading this book doesn't really leave one with a great sense of hope. These are all good reasons for someone to not like a novel. So why did I like it?

What this novel does have is a very remember-able narrator, someone who is both very pitiable and likeable. It also has great character development; rarely have I seen characters come alive in such complex and dynamic ways (in each part, each character evolved, or their character was revealed, so much that I constantly had to reassess everyone). It's also got an interesting, original, and somewhat dark structure-- at the each of each part, someone dies (or a part of them, metaphorically, dies). And lastly, it has a very interpretable story; I can see a thousand different college kids writing a thousand wildly different essays, all contradicting each other.

In the end, this book isn't very long, and it's unique, so if you're mildly interested, just give it a shot. If one is looking for a simple exciting read, then don't go for this one. But, if one is looking for something more eccentric, something a little more obscure and questionable-- all written in an easy and enjoyable style-- then this may be for you.