Tom Jones, a foundling, is brought up by the kindly Mr. Allworthy as if he were his own son. Forced to leave the house as a young man after tales of his disgraceful behavior reach his benefactor's ears, he sets out in utter despair, not only because of his banishment but because he has now lost all hope of gaining the hand of the beautiful Sophia. But she too is forced to flee her parental home to escape an undesirable marriage and their stories and adventures intertwine.
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even the great w. somerset maugham could, on occasion, bore you to distraction, so his reaction to tom jones -- the book, the classic, not the singer, who came much later -- is of little consequence. he found the book unreadable, boring.
well, the truth is that there's a great deal of utter waffle in this book, which could have been cut, snipped, abbreviated with no ill effect to the story, and in fact maugham did just that. as editor of a series of classic books he shortened tom jones and created a totally readable, totally delightful, version that could be appreciated by any mid-20th century reader.
i find maugham's edited version quite satisfactory, and a delight to read. and maugham's version is only fielding's own version, as edited by a regular modern editor. any other editor today would have done the same, if this had been a manuscript submitted by a modern writer.
so listening to a reading of the original version, with its overgrowth of diversions, digressions, and latin quotes is somewhat distracting. it's easy to lose the story, or the progress of the tale, and even in maugham's shortened edition there comes the point -- roughly around page 260 -- where the story finally grinds to a halt.
but carry on, the book ends gloriously and you would wish that it could continue for ever on. this is a classic, after all.
so my recommendation would be to read the book in some form, study notes, see the movie, read the novel or the maugham version, and THEN get down to the audible version. a great reader. but it took me to around book three or 15 per cent of the text, before i could finally get into the story and the language -- and this, despite having read the book and some secondary material about it. perhaps reading the printed book alongside listening to the audio format may provide a help in finding an easier and faster access to the author's circuitous style.
if you find the book inaccessible, worry not. you've got w. somerset maugham on your side. or try to find a copy of his shortened version. it is by no means a "simplified" or "reader's digest" edition. it's simply a book for modern readers.