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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 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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I must admit that I have now read Parade's End a few times now, both in treebook and now in kindle format. I also watched the BBC adaptation, which I quite enjoyed. There are a couple of things to be aware of though if you are reading this for the first time, this isn't really a book that you can easily read whilst commuting (I will come to why in a moment), and if you enjoyed Parade's End [DVD] it is no indicator whatsoever that you will enjoy the book.

Ford Madox Ford was a modernist and he loved to play with the chronological order of events, as can be seen right at the beginning of this book. Christopher Tietjens starts off on a train with a friend going to play golf, then the story back tracks into the events that led up to why. This happens throughout the book, indeed at one stage you read about the First World War ending, and then you are taken back to the War and the events that happened to Tietjens. This some people may find off putting, but Ford's reasons for this is that we don't think in a particular chronological order, which is after all correct. We may start talking about something that happened and then realise that we have mentioned an event that didn't happen until later in the main event. Also Ford was a great admirer of James Joyce's 'Ulysses', and thus this book or rather the four books that make up this story all contain stream of consciousness. As you can see to read all of this whilst on your daily commute is perhaps too tall an order, as you have to keep a lot in mind until you next pick the book up.

The basic storyline in itself is simple, a man marries a woman who is unfaithful, then himself falls in love with another woman. What Ford does with that story though transcends into something much more complex and powerful. Starting before and finishing after the First World War there is tragedy here, as well as quite a bit of comedy, whether that is the dark comedy of war, or the satire of the landed classes. In stories of war we are used to reading of the horrors and traumas that one faces, but here Ford also gives us the darkly comic side of all the absurdities and red tape that has to be got through just to get something as simple for instance as a blanket, or even a fire extinguisher. On top of this poor old Tietjens has to contend with his wife, her manipulations, and the rumours that she has caused to be started about him. And of course people sponging off him.

Some can argue that this book is of its time, of an era that no longer exists, and yes they can make a valid point. We know that after the horrors of the First World War and before that even, the system of great houses and servants was in decline, with the war arguably sounding the ultimate death knell. This book is more than that, it shows the horror and trauma of war and what can happen to people when you start spreading lies about them. People change, their characters alter, for the better, or worse. This book shows that clearly, along with other such things. The biggest draw though with this is Christopher Tietjens. You start off seeing him as a man with ideals from the 18th Century that arguably only ever existed on the pages of a novel. As the years and events take their toll though he does alter, but even at the end of this you still find his character a bit of an enigma, and that draws you back to him and the whole story again. Never boring, completely compelling, this is a story that often gets overlooked, but will give you hours of satisfaction and enjoyment. Just remember, this isn't a quick read, it takes time, and provided you don't forget where you are, not that complex to take in.
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on 22 January 2016
What a wonderful book this is! There are more famous books about life in the trenches of WW1, but this highly autobiographical piece of fiction is the best. I have loved this book for more than 30 years, and have always loved the heart rending central character Christopher Tetjiens. This book is a compilation pf the four nooks that make the Parade's End series - although really three books with an unsatisfactory final coda.

This is one of those books you have to reread every few years for the richness of the characters, the strength of the narrative, the heart and soul of the piece, whether you adore the love triangle, the fall and rise of a good man - whose honesty will break your heart - or find the tale of life and death in the trenches heartbreaking. At 744 pages this book is remarkable value for money,and there are two good and informative introductory essays. And then watch the sublime BBCTV adaptation on DVD.
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on 10 December 2012
I found this book intellectually challenging, psychologically perceptive, comic, historically interesting, vividly descriptive and a pleasure to read. It is often obscure, repetitive, digressive, verbose and sometimes politically incorrect but convincingly conveys the activity of human minds and emotions. I was on occasion temporarily puzzled but always finally received answers and never lost my way completely. While the characters are eccentric and often extreme, there is authenticity in their characteristics which gives, despite the historical context, universal appeal. The machinations of those with power, wealth or influence have resonance today. Accounts of conditions in the First World War are painfully memorable, whether it is life in the trenches or the behaviour of those uninvolved in the fighting. I have never read scenes of such heartrending horror as those at the front.

The presentation of disappointed love, social cruelty, kindness to the disadvantaged, tormented religion, ruthless self-regard, failed communication, corruption, class distinction and moral courage is spellbinding and all delivered with stylistic gymnastics. I have no hesitation in saying this is great literature.

My only complaint is the lack of proof-reading in the Kindle text. It is full of errors that are distracting and irritating.
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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 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 13 October 2012
"Parade's End" is a series of four novels, three of which hang together closely and all of which deal mainly with the same three characters. It is certainly not a family saga with the story progressing through time. There are though a few events that are latched onto and recur in (mainly Christpher Tietjens') ongoing musings. In a way it is a sad version of the eternal triangle, a hero married to an unloving wife who glimpses the elusive love of his life, but his antagonistic wife delights in making his life difficult.
It was written in the times of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf when the new fashion was for much musing and complex Freudian reaction. For us today it makes for a difficult read but one that is ultimately rewarding and its memory is lingering. The war sections are distinctively real and show the exhaustion of the senior officers close to the front in a way not found in other war novels. The fourth book is much less about Tietjens. The nearest we get to an "ending" is at the end of the third novel but the story (nightmare) goes on - as life tends to. It lingers in the mind afterwards....
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on 12 November 2014
The DVD of the unforgetable television adaptation of Parade's End has become one of our most prized serials. Reading Ford Maddox Ford's original novel has been doubling of the extraordinary experience of understanding the vision of the author and the period about which he writes.
This set of books is profound, visionary, surprisingly funny throughout; poetic, tragic; in all as unforgettable and experience as watching the very great television adaptation.
it is probably recommended that you watch the television version first; as this will make the reading of a very complex novel more readily understandable.
A very great novel of humane understanding and imagination.
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on 4 April 2013
If I hadn't have watched the TV series first I would have probably got very confused as Ford's style is very erratic. The order of events is sometimes retrospective and also from different character's perspectives so it can be a bit tricky to form and keep the big picture in mind. That said, the naturalistic style of expressing the character's thoughts allows the reader to understand the characters in great depth which, for me, is the mark of a great writer. Thoroughly enjoyable if you can persevere with it (and I would recommend watching the TV series first - Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect).

This edition is a thick book and the binding has held it together well.
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