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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable read; strong satire, often very funny
Don't read this book if you're looking for pacy action. Do read it if you're interested in a satirical view of the Victorian period (Religion, evolution, family life in a ludicrously moralistic vicar's household.)
Published 15 months ago by Martin Healey

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavy weather
was hopping to enjoy this book,but sadly this was not to be. although I persisted way longer than I would normally bother it just wasn't gelling with me.
Published 8 months ago by Julie Vanberkel


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable read; strong satire, often very funny, 27 July 2013
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Martin Healey - See all my reviews
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Don't read this book if you're looking for pacy action. Do read it if you're interested in a satirical view of the Victorian period (Religion, evolution, family life in a ludicrously moralistic vicar's household.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not what I expected, 20 Jan 2014
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It took me a while to realise the the plot is secondary to the commentary on contemporary society.Once I had attuned to this I enjoyed the writer's observations ,many of which are humorous & ironic
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good story and a good read, 3 Oct 2013
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Surprisingly modern sense of humour and a great sympathy for human weakness. I enjoyed it a great deal. Perhaps a bit on the slow side, but not a problem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten classic, 14 Sep 2013
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B. Brown (Northumberland, England) - See all my reviews
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A wonderful glimpse of life as it was in Butler's day and a first rate story. I'm grateful to Kindle for making it available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Way of All Flesh, 14 May 2013
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I enjoyed the careful tracking of the generations of the family and the role of narrator. Only towards the end did it become less satisfying. I had hoped for a fuller revolution in Ernest's views. It formed a thought-provoking insight into the cruel treatment of their children by thesociety of the time - late Victorian
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb stuff, 22 Mar 2013
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This was way out of my comfort zone however I thought it sounded entertaining and it certainly is. The irony and the agony of the life of poor Pontifex is great fun and strangely, it zips along for such a classic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary and scandalous, 12 Sep 2012
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Peasant (Deepest England) - See all my reviews
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The modern reader has a problem when reading this book. We haven't, from our earliest years, been bombarded with the mass of moralising, heavily religious improving literature with strong religious themes of the sort that made life a misery for the Victorian child. These soppy, stomach-churning tales of piety rewarded and virtue triumphant, usually featuring a the maudlin death of a child and a few references to angels for good measure, are far more representative of Victorian fiction that the "classics" which have survived to be read today. Pick a couple of these books off the bottom shelves in charity shop (or best of all, at a church jumble sale) and force yourself to read them. You will understand more about the Victorian mind and will appreciate that Butler was the Will Self of his day, daring to poke fun at subjects which were set up as the tin idols of 19th century literature.

Remember throughout that Butler is being ironic; in fact, only by walking a delicate tightrope would he have been able to publish at all. If something looks a bit odd, don't take it at face value, look for the subtext.

This book is definitely a Forgotten Bestseller; I suspect only students of literature will "get" it today. The other author who writes in this vein is Thackeray; Vanity Fair: A Novel Without A Hero (Oxford World's Classics) is a sardonic romp through Regency society and worth reading. If you are interested, in Eminent Victorians (Oxford World's Classics), Lytton Strachey's short biography of Cardinal Manning owes a surprising amount to Butler's fictional biography of Pontifex, and deals with the religious angst and ambition of a real figure of the same period.
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5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best books ever, 2 Jun 2014
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tallmanbaby (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I read this as a teenager, I was volunteering at a Yorkshire archaeological dig, and there were not a lot of books on the communal shelf. I suspect that, inspired by the title, I was expecting a more racey read. At the time it was one of my of favourite books, not just as an entertaining read, but as with Down and Out in Paris in London by Orwell, an inspiring life lesson.

I have just read the free Kindle version again, decades later and this still stands up as an outstanding read. It is difficult to explain what is so good about it, it is the story of Ernest Pontifex, the son of a clergyman in Victorian England. As with Henry Fielding the story is told by a heavy handed narrator who insists on offering his moral insights throughout.

The material on Victorian theology is probably of fairly niche interest now, but the underlying message of challenging authority, be it the established church, tyrannical parents or indifferent schools, remains relevant. It is consistently wry and entertaining, amusing and insightful.

Samuel Butler was fearful of publishing this in his lifetime, and although more outspoken books have been written since, few have bettered this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good book, 31 Aug 2014
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Life is a complex of forces unplanned and in intended. Ernest gets through with a success his father failed to achieve.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavy weather, 27 Feb 2014
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Julie Vanberkel (United kingdom) - See all my reviews
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was hopping to enjoy this book,but sadly this was not to be. although I persisted way longer than I would normally bother it just wasn't gelling with me.
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