David's Reviews > The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
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's review
Oct 07, 2012

really liked it
Read from June 29 to July 03, 2012

This is an amazingly intricately worked-out book: Ford Madox Ford's novel has all the relentlessness of a tragedy, albeit one that's utterly thwarted of any redemptive catharsis. Telling the story of of the repeat adulterer Edward Ashburnham (the "good soldier" of the title), from the point of view of one of his cuckolds, this is perhaps one of the finest examples of the "unreliable narrator" plot that came to mark so much of the writing of the early 20th century. The facts of the plot are established fairly early on, but the rambling retrospective narration of a character who is only aware of the events of the plot in hindsight allows Ford free reign for his piercing analysis of the psychologies of his characters, characters perfectly trapped in a complex destructive web of their own natures, their circumstances and their frustrated aspirations. Crucially, though, despite the fact that the seemingly disorgansied narrative and the almost wilful denseness of our narrator (a simple American who seems as incurious about his own psychology as he is blind to the actions and motives of the people around him) can be alienating at first, "The Good Soldier" skilfully draws you in to its compelling world of hypocritical Edwardian repression. A brilliant book, if a bleak one!
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