Review 1331: The Good Soldier

Cover for The Good SoldierThe Good Soldier is considered Ford Madox Ford’s greatest novel. His earlier work was more Edwardian realist, but this novel has several characteristics of modernism, including an unreliable narrator, an interest in characters’ psychological underpinnings, and a more liberated female character.

The narrator of the novel, set before World War I, is John Dowell, a wealthy but incredibly dense American. He is not unreliable because he is lying or misrepresenting what has happened but simply because he is almost willfully blind to it. At the beginning of the novel, he informs us that the Ashburnhams were his wonderful, close friends for nine years, decent people, good people. Yet, at almost the next breath he reveals that Edward Ashburnham had an affair with John’s wife, Florence, for nine years.

The Good Soldier is the story of the complex relationships between Leonora and Edward Ashburnham and how their problems affect the lives of other people, particularly their innocent young friend, Nancy. This is the kind of book, I believe, that readers will understand differently each time they read it.

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6 thoughts on “Review 1331: The Good Soldier

  1. Ruthiella March 26, 2019 / 1:35 pm

    You are probably correct that The Good Soldier is a book that will be understood differently upon multiple readings. I only read it the once and I thought it was so slow and I didn’t find it particularly sad. But that was almost 20 years ago. I do wonder if I might appreciate it more a second time around.

    • whatmeread March 26, 2019 / 2:46 pm

      I don’t know that it’s meant to be sad, either.

  2. Jane March 27, 2019 / 12:33 pm

    I haven’t read any Ford Maddox Ford (one for my next classics list I think), this sounds interesting would you go with this one?

    • whatmeread March 27, 2019 / 4:10 pm

      I you just want a stand-alone, this one is good, but I preferred Parade’s End, which I think is more of an Edwardian novel. That’s a long book, though (I reviewed it as four books), so to get an idea of what he is like, you might want to start with this one.

  3. Jane April 2, 2019 / 11:50 am

    That’s good advice, thanks!

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