Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Good Soldier” as Want to Read:
The Good Soldier
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Good Soldier

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  17,846 Ratings  ·  1,174 Reviews
When John Dowell and his wife befriend Edward and Leonora Ashburnham, they appear to be the perfect couple. He is a distinguished soldier and she is beautiful and intelligent. However, what lies beneath the surface of their marriage is far more sinister and their influence leads John into a tragic drama that threatens to destroy everything he cares about.

Ford Madox Ford wr
...more
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published 1991 by Everyman's Library (first published 1915)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Good Soldier, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Good Soldier

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Darwin8u
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I don't know what anyone has to be proud of.”
― Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier

description

What? You mean this novel isn't about war? Is it possible to hate a book and love it at the same time? This is one of those books where it immediately becomes obvious you aren't going to read this novel for the strict pleasure of it. This book ain't ice cream on the beach folks. I don't think I've run across a more amoral, unsympathetic cast of characters since I visited Kehlsteinhaus. But, Ford Madox Ford is absol
...more
Michael
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a sick, rotten, depraved society we're treated to, populated by liars and knaves, and yet I found myself heartbroken by the end, wondering what kind of magic spell Ford had cast on me. Ford is an absolute master of technique--in this case the use of flashbacks and an unreliable narrator--and I found myself riveted throughout. The novel begins with one of the most famous opening lines in literature: "This is the saddest story I have ever heard." That may well be true.
Jr Bacdayan
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Storytelling is about as much an art as is writing. Any piece of paper can have beautifully constructed sentences, impeccable prose, dazzling verses, yet when there simply is nothing to tell all those words are moot. The alarming strength of the Good Soldier can be found in its maze-like narration that starts off with an innocent consciousness that through the pages, like a survivor seeing a massacre unfold as a blinding mist slowly recedes, realizes one by one the sins of the world he once thou ...more
Steven  Godin
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, fiction, british
The Good Soldier I found to be a difficult book to grasp, at least to begin with. I felt the need to go back over the first 40 pages or so, just to try and accustom myself to it. Things paid of in the end, but it really did require patience, a quiet room, and reading big chunks at a time, rather than just picking off a few pages here and there. The theme is a strong one, that being marriage and adultery, with a narrator who you feel in the dark about, going over the events of two couples, one Am ...more
·Karen·
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ·Karen· by: Teresa
Shelves: favourites, brits
Oh! Propriety!

Nowadays there's a word for Edward Ashburnham. And I don't mean some modern vulgarity, unavailable to the Edwardians, something like emotional fuck-up, appropriate as that may be (or not). No, I'm thinking serial monogamist. The term is new, because the concept is new. At the turn of the 20th century there was monogamy. Or there was promiscuity: casual couplings with seamstresses, milliners, laundresses or the convenient and pliable housemaid. A taboo subject, to be spoken of in hu
...more
Chris
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: just about anyone
Today’s special from the bill of fare: Crow. Market Price. Served with a complimentary slice of stale pumpernickel and a glass of river water.

I really did not think I was going to enjoy this book one bit; I also erroneously believed it was included in the collection of crap known as Time’s ‘100 Best 20th Century Novels’, and the fact it isn’t is probably why it was actually enjoyable. This is, however, included on several other ‘hits lists’, such as the ridiculous 1001 Books to Read Before You D
...more
Sara
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of two marriages, a philandering husband, a controlling wife, living lies, keeping up appearances, misusing religion and pursuing happiness in all the wrong places. It is told by an unreliable narrator who scarcely seems to understand the import of the story himself. It is wonderfully constructed, gloriously convoluted, and amazingly misdirected. The narrator tells us, "I have stuck to my idea of being in a country cottage with a silent listener, hearing between the gusts of the ...more
Kelly
Oct 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the Lost Gen, fans of british literature, those who like character studies
Wow, was this well done. I almost wrote 'fantastic', but that didn't seem appropriate to the mood of the piece. It is also throughly soul-crushing, of course, but that shouldn't affect your reading plans in favor of it. It really is a must-read, I think.

The book is a thorough condemnation of the principles of Edwardian society and the Victorian society that came before it, made all the more effective by the fact that it comes from the most unlikely source, a timid, quiet American man who has ha
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, 501
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Good Soldier is so heartbreakingly beautiful. I wonder if I have ever felt so conflicted when a book came to an end, on the one hand I didn't want the experience to end - I unearthed gems on every page, gems of solemnity, disappointment, angst, and insight; on the other, each page filled me with renewed heartbreak. The "saddest story" is about two couples, the upright up-class English Ashburnhams (Edward (the eponymous, ironic "good soldier") and Leonora) and the American Dowells (John (our ...more
knig
Nov 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why is this titled ‘the Good Soldier’? Edward was a soldier, for a spell. Edward of the nefarious quadratic epicentre where, after the music stopped everyone sat on the wrong chair. Is narrator John Dowell (where only Dowell seems to appear in the text and you have to read FMF’s intro to gather it was prefixed by a John, a man insignificant enough to not have a name?) in love with him? And did said John ever consummate his twelve year marriage to Florence? And, do lets dig some more dirt: did Ed ...more
Teresa
Ford Madox Ford
nasceu em Inglaterra em 1873 e morreu em França em 1939. Foi grande amigo de Joseph Conrad tendo escrito, em colaboração com ele, um romance de ficção-científica - Os Herdeiros - Uma História Extravagante.
O Bom Soldado é considerada a sua melhor obra, fazendo as delícias dos leitores, pela surpresa e pelo divertimento, desde a sua publicação em 1915. É considerado um dos clássicos do século XX e aparece em muitas listas The Best Books.

O Bom Soldado: Uma História de Paixão
"Esta
...more
Shane
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is indeed a sad story, where no one gets what they want.

Based on a true story and revolving around two couples, one English the other American, and narrated by the American husband, this novel is told in an experimental style. When I mean told, there is very little dialogue and most of the incidents come out in dribs and drabs, out of sequence, and from a rather unreliable narrator who constantly contradicts his statements. The narrator goes over old ground frequently, mostly trying to reco
...more
Jesse
Oct 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: them, him
Lots of books (novels and otherwise) attempt to mix the chilling and the blasé for that extra-cold "banality of evil" effect. Among novels, American Psycho comes to mind as a possible least-favorite and The Good Soldier as a certain favorite. It would be too much to call any of these characters "evil" but as you ponder who among the morally vacuous cast is the "worst", you'll discover that your gaze turns inward, which is Ford's real achievement here.
Victoria Young
The Good Soldier is an amazing feat of plot construction. This is the best example of how an unreliable narrator (John Dowell) and fragmentary plot can be used to reveal intricacies of character that could never be as effectively expressed through simple description. Not only is this brilliantly done, but I was amazed to realise how early a piece of modernist work The Good Soldier is- published in 1915. It must have created quite a stir when it was published as its main interest is the destructi ...more
Brian
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Hemingway's A Moveable Feast brought me back to Ford, an author whose most well known piece of fiction has been on my perpetual "to read" list. Hemingway's less than flattering portrayal of Ford was the tipping point, and I finally decided to read this novel while Papa's well depicted portrait of Ford was fresh in my head.

After the first 50 pages I was convinced that I had read this story. Tropes tried-and-true seemed to drip from the pages; I found myself sighing and noting frequently h
...more
James
May 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lplib-classics
Some questions arise when reading The Good Soldier. Is it an impressionistic masterpiece? Is it a tragedy or a comedy? Published in 1915, from the pen of Ford Madox Ford, it is unique enough to have been described by its critics as all of the preceding and more. Subtitled "A Tale of Passion", it is unique both in my experience and within the author's total work.
The story is narrated by an American, John Dowell, who invites the reader to sit down with him beside the fire of his study to listen t
...more
David
The evidence that I am a complete Philistine continues to accumulate, as yet another acknowledged classic sails right over my head. I did not like "The Good Soldier", for various reasons. Here are a few:

# The plot was an awkward mixture of implausible contrivance and overwrought melodrama, and seemed fundamentally not credible, from start to finish. The basic setup (Serial philanderer Edward cheats on controlling Leonora and cavorts with Florence, the slutty wife of the book's narrator John) was
...more
Ana
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books, z-alm, c-uk, 2stars
Decepcionante é a palavra. Talvez porque as excelentes referências acerca deste livro, me tenham criado expectativas que acabaram por provocar essa decepção relativamente à sua leitura.

O Bom Soldado conta a história de dois casais e mais alguns intervenientes que se relacionam através de uma série de infidelidades conjugais, narrada por um marido enganado. Pelo meio há quem morra, quem se suicide e quem enlouqueça. Os acontecimentos são narrados de uma forma propositadamente desconexa, sem um fi
...more
Lostinanovel
Sep 26, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Embarrassed to say that I somehow missed this one. I know it is highly acclaimed and my fellow readers here seem to love it, but i must be missing something. The narrator is frustratingly stupid and naive and the good soldier is simply a bastard. Social constructs doomed the characters but their adherence to society's rules borders on foolishness, particularly when they clearly dont really care for these rules.

The point of view aspect is intersting and I wonder if I didnt miss something there.
...more
Emma
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deeply hated everyone is this book. But a really fast and enjoyable read. If you like mystery, passion, people with blue eyes, and modern classics then give this a go. Also the writing is kind of gorgeous.
Leslie
May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I waffled a bit between 3.5 and 4 stars for this classic. While there were things about it that didn't appeal to me (some Catholic bashing for example), it made an impression on me & made me think. Two different but equally dysfunctional marriages are laid bare throughout the course of the book.

It is written in an unusual style that I am not sure that I liked but worked well here -- the narrator
writes as if the reader knew some fact or event that had not been revealed yet and then later ex
...more
Bloodorange
I liked it. Mostly. To be precise, up to two-thirds; after that, the subject matter, the narrator (for it is largely a retrospective, first-person narrative by a middle-aged white male), and the style (increasingly exalted - think schoolgirls, not nobility) began to tire me. I think it was partly because I started to dislike the narrator and his manner of self-presentation; what made the first two-thirds of the book enjoyable for me was waiting for some sign that he is, in fact, unreliable - it ...more
Beth
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want a good case of cultural whiplash, read The Good Soldier and then the reviews of Michel Houellenbecq's Plateforme (thanks, Hazel). From 20-year-old virgins who don't know where babies come from to sex tourism in less than a hundred years.

Ford's book has been called a perfect novel by some. There are endless (and interesting) debates about the reliability of the narrator. The novel has been described as impressionist literature, and the story is told in kaliadoscopic flashes. One's und
...more
David
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
"The Good Soldier" is a southern European opera masquerading as Fitzgerald's "Tender is the Night". It's that nuts. I have no idea what these people think they are doing. Isn't it supposed to be the twentieth century? Aren't most of them supposed to be English? (America is represented by an effete narrator and his slutty wife.)

I was reminded of something Junichiro Tanizaki had someone think in "Some Prefer Nettles":
"Surely, he may say to himself, the problem, no matter what strong emotions it s
...more
Tyler
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Tyler by: Goodreads Review
I shouldn't have liked this book: Two wealthy, idle, hypochondriac couples while away the summers in jaded ennui at a German spa. But I did like it. How does the author pull that off?

The answer comes down to the writing, though creative technique also deserves mention. Ford Maddox Ford uses a single member of this foursome to tell the entire tale from an embedded point of view, leaving readers to work through the inevitable gaps. To good effect, Ford also fractures the story according the jumble
...more
Maria
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
As I try to gather my thoughts on this book, I suppose that I should begin by saying that I knew nothing about this book. I was intrigued by the premise and decided to join a buddy read of it. It focuses on the relationship of two couples, but don't let that simplicity fool you. This book is full of complexity.

The book is told by a narrator, John Dowell, who unravels the story as if you were sitting with him having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. That aspect is what drew me into the book. T
...more
Susan
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I reread this novel for a book group and was surprised how little people had to say about it since I was fascinated by the characters, the story and the way it is written. The layering and returns of the narrative, with more revealed each time, as well as the themes reminded me very much of Henry James--Portrait of a Lady, The Wings of the Dove--with the contrast of social appearances and the gradual revelation of what lies behind the appearances. And then there's the narrator and what he does a ...more
Jan-Maat
Tale of the breakdown of relationships that I read roundabout the age of seventeen. What I found remarkable was the narrative style that cleverly pulls your sympathies from one character to another. Very effective piece of writing.

Ford Madox Ford was an admired but commercially unsuccessful writer and much of his work is sadly out of print, worth hunting down though.
Alina
Oct 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, uni-books
A bit tedious to read at times (I have a mind that easily digresses, and this combined with a narrator that easily digresses as well made my focus slip quite often), but honestly, I just love a good, sad story. And this is supposed to be the saddest story.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Studs Lonigan
  • The Way of All Flesh
  • A Dance to the Music of Time: 3rd Movement (A Dance to the Music of Time, #7-9)
  • The Old Wives' Tale
  • The Ambassadors
  • Zuleika Dobson
  • USA: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money
  • The Wapshot Chronicle
  • Nostromo
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (The Growth Trilogy, #2)
  • A High Wind in Jamaica
  • Scoop
  • Loving
  • Point Counter Point
  • The Fall of the Athenian Empire
  • The Death of the Heart
  • Appointment in Samarra
  • A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays
1209
Ford Madox Ford, born Ford Hermann Hueffer, was an English novelist, poet, critic and editor whose journals, The English Review and The Transatlantic Review, were instrumental in the development of early 20th-century English literature.

Ford Madox Ford was the author of over 60 works: novels, poems, criticism, travel essays, and reminiscences. His work includes The Good Soldier, Parade's End, The R
...more
More about Ford Madox Ford...

Share This Book

“I know nothing - nothing in the world - of the hearts of men. I only know that I am alone - horribly alone.” 63 likes
“The world is full of places to which I want to return” 44 likes
More quotes…