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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 14 October 2012
As other reviewers have noted, Kindle editions of these books have been emerging from the woodwork since Cumberbatch brought it to the small screen. I personally think that this is the best edition for Kindle. There are no textual errors or typographical/layout problems. There is a full index. The first three books are included in accordance with the author's own preference to exclude the final one (this also ties in with where the TV series ended). This is a good, reasonably priced edition.

The story itself is an epic meditation on one of the most changeable eras in British history, beginning around the turn of the 20th century and charting changing social attitudes through the first world war to the era of women's liberation. For me it isn't just a story about Christopher Tiejens and his life, which is interesting enough given his character, his wife, his best friend and his colleagues; it's also and more importantly a reflection on attitudes and outlooks of the time. It raises questions about why people behaved the way that they did and the purpose of it all. The meaning of ethics and morality are big themes, and what it means to be respectable and successful amidst the collapse of certain 'old-fashioned' Victorian values. I think the third book ends on a high and in the perfect way.

The TV series stayed very close to the original text(s), so if you enjoyed it then you will probably enjoy the books as well. The only difference is additional details they left out when making the TV series, some for the sake of summarising and others that seem to have been more political choices (leaving out the more hard-to-swallow contemporary attitudes about racism from the first book, for example).
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on 2 November 2007
Until quite recently I was barely aware of Ford Madox Ford. When people list the great writers of the early 20th Century his name usually merits only a footnote. However, a short article in a national newspaper appraising "The Good Soldier" as one of the great English novels prompted me to read it. And great it is.

That led me onto this weighty quartet, which has lived with me for the last couple of months. And it confirms my suspicions that Ford is indeed one of our greatest writers, whether he is currently fashionable or no.

One of my first reactions was that - notwithstanding the publisher's blurbs and cover illustrations - this is NOT a novel "about" the First World War. Yes, the war is an important theme, but it is by no means the only one. In fact the military action, such as it is, features only in the third of the four novels making up the sequence.

No, this book belongs in the pantheon of the great "social" novels - it stands up extremely well against Galsworthy, Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf, Anthony Powell, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald and even Marcel Proust, who are Ford's true contemporaries. Indeed, it shares with those writers' works an experimental approach to exploring characters' psychological motivations and thought processes that was so characteristic of the 1920s "Modernist" movement. Rarely has a writer captured so well the way in which peoples' minds REALLY work - with confusion, doubt and sudden impulsive decision galloping along in rapid succession. Ford has a rare gift for bathos - broad comedy and real human tragedy can inhabit the same page in a way which can be unsettling, but always rings true.

This is very much a novel of its time - and especially - social milieu. Almost all the main characters are members of the English upper-middle classes, and the book charts mercilessly the unravelling of their once-secure world, as Britain shifts into the modern, post-Victorian era.

Structurally, it is equally impressive. Ford has a breathtaking ability to "time-shift" back-and-forth without ever losing the reader's attention; each chapter starts off with a major leap forward from the one before, so that we are initially unsure of what has happened in the meantime. Then, via a series of "flashbacks" and subtle conversations, the missing jigsaw pieces are slotted into place and the picture becomes clear.

Interestingly, almost every scene consists of dialogue, with one, two and occasionally three or four characters interacting in a single location - it is almost as if Ford had one eye on a possible stage dramatisation of the story. As such, it would - in the hands of the right screenwriter and director - make a superb TV adaptation. We've had "A Dance To The Music Of Time" and "Brideshead", so come on BBC/Channel Four - why not? (EDIT, September 2012 - thanks Mr. Stoppard!)

You'll have gathered by now that I love this book. It may not be to everyone's taste - Ford's use of language can seem slightly odd to modern ears, for example - but if you enjoy a book you can "live in" for an extended period, I urge you to give it a try.
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on 26 June 2017
I should have paid more attention to some of the poorer reviews. I've only read the first three chapters but it has been hard going. It's not so much the progression of the story, it is the poorly laid out and garbled text. For example: 'Of course, that hurts him,' is how it should appear on my Kindle page. It actually appears as 'Of coursethathurts him.' These are not isolated instances but occur on most pages. Very frustrating but I will try to persevere as I do not like giving up on a book. If you're thinking of adding this to your Kindle, I would suggest you revert back to the good old paperback instead.
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on 31 December 2012
Like many others I watched Parade's End on TV and loved it. However, TV adaptations, even those by the excellent Tom Stoppard, are bound to miss out elements of the novels on which they are based. So I downloaded this Kindle edition and have found myself completely gripped by the novels. Once I got used to the style, the writing, which follows the inner worlds of the main characters, is utterly immersive. The reader is taken inside the heads of Christopher Tietjens and Sylvia Tietjens and some of the other characters. One sees the world through their eyes. Unlike Dickens (for example), the author does not intrude, does not offer commentary on what's going on.

The effect can be rather disorienting, as can be the sudden time shifts in the narrative. But that's part of what Ford Madox Ford was trying to show - the disorientation of a world that had been disrupted by the First World War.

My big disappointment is not with the novels themselves, but with the transfer to Kindle. It looks to me as if the printed pages have been scanned, subjected to optical character recognition (OCR) so as to be editable, but not properly proof-read. There are typos, there are words that don't make sense unless you know that the OCR process is not completely accurate. For example, Miss Wannop's suffragette comrade-in-arms is called Gertie; for a page or two, however, she becomes "Genie" - clearly an OCR error that has not been corrected. I have tried not to let this annoy me, but it does!

If you value great fiction, these novels are must-reads - they some of the great works of 20th century literature.
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on 12 November 2012
Firstly, the transcription to ebook has a few more than the usual number of errors which can confuse the reader (well, it did me). If I hadn't first seen the TV series based on these books I don't think I would have had a clue what was going on. FMF's treatment of the chronology of events is, at times, more complex than the typical 'flashback' approach so that it can be difficult to know whether you are in the past or the present at times. Also, the dialogue between characters sometimes seems so obtuse that I have had to re-read a passage several times to try and distill the essence of what has been said. Perhaps I'm dumber than I like to think I am. However, despite all these negatives, as a portrayal of the conflicting morals, manners and attitudes towards women and class in particular at the beginning of the 20th century it has a compelling attraction. It is not a relaxing, easy read in my opinion but worth the effort.
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on 8 November 2012
Having been bowled over by the wonderful BBC (and Tom Stoppard) adaptation of Ford Maddox Ford's trilogy, I thought I'd try the original.
It really was quite hard going and, had not the tv characters' faces been fresh in my mind, I would have found it almost impossible to follow what the opening chapters were all about. Even so, I have to admit that I "gave up" after about 90 pages.
I feel the need to add that I'm not a total illiterate, and have easily enjoyed Dickens and Jane Austen over the past few months, so maybe this says something about why "Parade's End" became a FORGOTTEN masterpiece. Maybe I'll try again next year ........
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on 5 February 2013
Brilliant book, which I bought because I watched the TV version. BUT, it might be worth spending a few extra pennies to buy a copy that had not been so obviously transcribed by a machine with no-one looking at the mistakes thus generated. I got used to the distractions but it has to be a major consideration against this cheapo version.

So buy a different edition of the book, read and enjoy. For those interested in the development of the novel, it is a wonderful missing link showing just how the heavy Victorian tomes sharpened up and gave rise to the very best of 20th century fiction. Rich in every way. I am nearing the end of the third book and I will miss it.
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on 7 October 2012
This book is fantastic but this edition contains so many mistakes. Lots of punctuation is replaced by numbers - at least that is what I think has happened. There are a lot of spelling mistakes and since FMF uses a fair few unfamiliar words (many not in the supplied kindle dictionaries), you really have to think hard to decide whether what you are reading is a mistake or not.
I don't know why the book is described as 'annotated.' If there are any annotations at all then I haven't found them.
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on 21 November 2012
I wouldn't have bought a Madox Ford book had I not watched the BBC dramatisation of this trilogy. I was glad I bought the books - it's modernism, but has a straightforward narrative, and the characterisations are superb. The First World War sections resonate with the stupidity, tragedy and mismanagement of that campaign. Sylvia Tiejens is a match for Lady Macbeth.
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on 22 October 2013
Bought this after watching TV series - mistake. Was unable to get past first 3 or 4 pages - found the style difficult to cope wih and its not because I don't reads- I like Dickens and Rutherford so long books aren't a problem.
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