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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love This
I read this book for the first time earlier this year in a paperback version, but when I saw this free kindle edition on here whilst browsing I just had to get it, and read it all over again. If you have never read this before then you are missing a treat; you may have heard that this is a 'problem novel', but that doesn't mean it is too hard to read or understand, the...
Published 23 months ago by M. Dowden

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT a classic
There are few things in life to equal the great classics of literature and I am spending my retirement re-reading those I have encountered only once and looking at new possibilities. The reputation of Ford Maddox Ford is not quite of classic status yet he has always had strong advocates and these seem to have increased in number and intensity over the years, so I thought...
Published 21 months ago by Melvyn Elphee


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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love This, 13 Aug 2012
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Good Soldier (Kindle Edition)
I read this book for the first time earlier this year in a paperback version, but when I saw this free kindle edition on here whilst browsing I just had to get it, and read it all over again. If you have never read this before then you are missing a treat; you may have heard that this is a 'problem novel', but that doesn't mean it is too hard to read or understand, the problem in this case is to do with the veracity of the narrator.

Two couples, an American pair, and an English pair meet abroad for about a month every year. It transpires that one from each couple have been having a clandestine affair. If this story had been told in correct chronological order then it is doubtful that it would grab your attention so much. This particular tale is told out of kilter, so you never know the veracity of the narrator, what he really knew or suspected, and what he was in the dark about.

Fascinating and compelling this story really pulls you in, and I hope that if you decide to download it you will love it as much as I do.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has the wrong thing", 1 Oct 2013
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Good Soldier (Kindle Edition)
I found this really hard to get into: read the first 50 pages twice-over and just couldn't get on with it. Then took a deep breath, sat in a quiet room, and recommenced it, reading most in one go. And it really is quite a masterpiece!
Being a shortish (179 p) book, and being based around themes of marriage and adultery, you might be expecting a fairly easy read. It certainly isn't that, not least because the narrator (the wronged husband) doesn't start at the start and work through chronologically. Little snippets come out, but your assumptions about what is meant may be incorrect...

Who is good and who is bad? Again, the narrator's conclusions may surprise you. The characters are deeply layered, meriting a second read through. Challenging - but glad I pursued it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love is a battlefield, 28 Jun 2013
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Good Soldier (Kindle Edition)
Here's a book whose famous opening sentence ("This is the saddest story I have ever heard") draws the unwitting reader across the threshold into a baffling world of deception, contradiction, ignorance and horror. In fact - as has been pointed out by Julian Barnes in his essay on Ford in his latest collection - by the time the reader reaches the end of that simple phrase, the deception has already started. As becomes clear in the first few pages, the narrator didn't "hear" the story at all - he was a participant (albeit a mostly ignorant one) in it. This tiny clue (Barnes describes it as a "creak under the [reader's] foot") alerts us to the unreliability of the narrator, as he starts to tell the story of the Ashburnhams, an English couple which he and his wife met at a German spa town in the 1900's. Or rather, he doesn't start. As if being unreliable wasn't enough, he relates his tale in a nonlinear fashion: jumping in at the middle, relaying flashbacks out of sequence, leaving gaps in his story that the reader is supposed to fill in, even as the full realization of what happened to those two couples gradually emerges. It's a story which calls for an attentive reader, but there are many rewards as you try to unpick the narrator's contradictions - e.g.

"[I]t made her more hateful to him - and more worthy of respect"

"And she looked at him with her straight eyes of an unflinching cruelty and she said: 'I am ready to belong to you - to save your life.'"

"I think that it would have been better in the eyes of God if they had all attempted to gouge out each other's eyes with carving knives. But they were 'good people'."

He throws these up as he apparently tries to recall the details of the story (and occasionally expresses his frustrations in asides to the reader: "I have been casting back again; but I cannot help it. It is so difficult to keep all these people going.") In spite of these protests of his limitations, the result is a immensely subtle and finely-textured story which - when you look back on its uneven path - steadily and inexorably builds to a bloody climax which shows the painful ends of characters who are "drifting down life, like fireships afloat on a lagoon and causing miseries, heart-aches, agony of the mind and death".

[I read this story as a (freely available) download on my iPhone; previously, I've only used that medium for shorter pieces, but found that it was particularly well-suited to this novel because of the built-in ability to quickly search back through the text, highlight passages of interest (something I never do in a physical book) and look up definitions for unfamiliar words. I think these features made unpicking the puzzle of this story easier to do, and improved my understanding and appreciation of the author's work.]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An immensely moving and satisfying book., 20 May 2013
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This review is from: The Good Soldier (Kindle Edition)
This is certainly one of the best novels I have read, possibly the very best. It draws the reader in to to a story of quiet intensity, beautifully explored, infinitely sad.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Good Soldier, 5 Sep 2012
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Cyril Burt "sid" (Surrey, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Good Soldier (Kindle Edition)
A brilliantly told story about the complexity of holding a life together.

It is a novel way of writing that takes a bit of getting used to. I enjoyed it and will read more of his books.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT a classic, 12 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Good Soldier (Kindle Edition)
There are few things in life to equal the great classics of literature and I am spending my retirement re-reading those I have encountered only once and looking at new possibilities. The reputation of Ford Maddox Ford is not quite of classic status yet he has always had strong advocates and these seem to have increased in number and intensity over the years, so I thought I should give this a go. At the start I felt very much "Hats off - a genius": interesting style, quirky narrative point of view, themes of great potential, engagingly "modern" structure, intriguing plot, living characters - surely a classic. But as I read on I felt I was increasingly engaged in a limited domestic drama with little interest beyond itself - rather as if Macbeth were just about an odd couple who go about some nasty murders or King Lear about a dysfunctional family with a troublesome aged parent. By the end I did not see the point of engaging with these essentially trivial lives in such detail, the "unreliable narrator" stance was a cheat (since it was not in ironic counterpoint with anything - in contrast to The Great Gatsby which it reminded me of at the start)and the random structure fell apart. We are left with a superb style and I have generally felt that the how of writing is more important than the what (as in, arguably, Jane Austen) but in this case I felt that some things are barely worth saying however well said. At the same time, like all classics, the book has "got into me" and is unlikely to go away. I may well have quite a different view of it as the years go by - another characteristic of the true classic!
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1.0 out of 5 stars THE GOOD SOLDIER, 8 July 2014
This review is from: The Good Soldier (Kindle Edition)
I read this book in my book club and my first thought was that I not finish it but as I read more of it I was drawn into the story by the charactors. They were some of the the weirdest cast ever essembled but they worked.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant and unputdownable, 5 July 2014
By 
Leslie Gardner (london, england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Good Soldier (Kindle Edition)
one of my (and i am certain many others too) all-time favorite love stories of tragic mistiming and inexpert perceptions - infidelity, yes, and wartime anxieties permeate the story - the difficulties of being a woman in Edwardian times compounded by wartime sympathies (the men must not suffer) are sympathetically presented without a drop of self-pity. witty dialogue and real characters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars University Choice to Personal Favourite, 4 May 2014
This review is from: The Good Soldier (Kindle Edition)
This was on my reading list for university in an English Literature course so reading them under duress can feel like a chore but I honestly loved this book. Plenty of material for academic study like the narrative strategy and the form of the book, as well as a really good, enjoyable story. For me it was the narrative strategy that makes the book stand out, told from the present talking about the past - without the influence of perspective. Never encountered a book that approaches the past in this way. It is almost like a detective story but John Dowell (the narrator) is no detective! Written in any other way would turn the novel into millions like it bt Ford Madox Ford presents (for me) a unique tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ., 15 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Good Soldier (Kindle Edition)
A fantastic journey into the lives of seemingly ordinary people who slowly descend into turmoil. A wonderful, if long, read.
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