Ford Madox Ford’s tetralogy, set in England during World War I, is widely considered one of the best novels of the 20th century.
First published as four separate novels (Some Do Not…, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up, and The Last Post) between 1924 and 1928, Parade’s End explores the world of the English ruling class as it descends into the chaos of war.
Christopher Tietjens is an officer from a wealthy family who finds himself torn between his unfaithful socialite wife, Sylvia, and his suffragette mistress, Valentine. A profound portrait of one man’s internal struggles during a time of brutal world conflict, Parade’s End bears out Graham Greene’s prediction that "there is no novelist of this century more likely to live than Ford Madox Ford."
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A brilliant, challenging, and valuable work
Yes. The prose is dense, moves back and forth in time, and is often written in stream of consciousness. I miss things if my attention drifts for a moment. I plan to listen again because this is such a beautiful book. And so nicely read.
The insights into history through the minds and hearts of people who lived and loved during those turbulent times is incredibly interesting to me. It's not simply a love story or a war story or the tale of a way of life imploding. It's a deep analization of what makes people tick--what motivates and inspires them. The way Ford captures thought--the way people really think--is amazing. (I'm reminded of Joyce.) I admired the various perspectives which allow me to approve/disapprove, admire/disrespect, curse/bless, and rush/savor all at the same time.
I think he allows me to be more patient--to not miss things I would miss if my eyes were rushing to see how a scene unfolded. Listening to his pleasant voice allows me to savor images and moments more fully.
The way during the most trying moments so many things race through the minds of the characters was immensely moving. And Christopher's goodness actually hurt. He tried always to do the right thing and I wanted to scream at him, to shake him. It is his intensity and his honor at home, at work, and in the trenches that made me so sad. Such a brilliant mind....So little joy.
This is the type of book that is art. It is perfect, wonderful, and horrible all at the same time. And it's not the gore of war that haunts, it's the mundanity and stupidity--and the waste. Add that to the 'rules of the game' that the British mid- to upper-crust had to play by, and you get an impressive, poignant, and frustrating novel. The characters are so memorable, especially Christopher Teitjens. (I could understand why Sylvia was spoiled for all other men--and why Valentine was spoiled too.). Note: Parade's End is not for those who need traditional structure. No tidy package here; the book reads like war plays out: in bits and pieces, with fragments of memories, dreams,boredom and drama. A bomb blows up every once in a while--and then life (and the word and world) goes on....
A brilliant Ford Madox Ford
Definitely. Parade's End is my favorite book, one I have read 6 or 7 times (all 800+ pages of it!). I figured I would give it a shot on Audible, and it's as though I am reading it for the first time. Hearing it has enhanced and clarified this book in ways that astonished me, including the characters' motivations and even the plot.
All the main characters are both sympathetic and wrong in interesting ways-- real people, in other words. Believable women characters. And his writing is beautiful.
He is particularly good at reading the internal monologues - I felt I was inside people's heads more than when I read the book on the page.
No - it's dense and complicated, it's necessary to take breaks. Plus it's long.
I'm thrilled to meet this very familiar book in such a new way. It's as though the windows have been washed and I can see more clearly than I had any idea existed.