Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion is the 43rd. book the Cornflower Book Group has read and it has the 'distinction' of being the only one I've contemplated stopping reading half way through. I didn't give up, I carried on to the end, but I hope you all made more of it than I did, and I hope someone will point out what I've obviously missed, because apart from wanting to shake all the characters and tell them to get a grip, I was otherwise quite nonplussed.
Need we go into the plot? I think not, and I'd be hard pressed to set it down here, anyway. The style is impressionistic, and so digressional and discursive it reminded me of a children's song, the chorus of which was "We're going this way and that way, forwards and backwards, over the Irish Sea", quite apt considering that John Dowell, the narrator, describes the group comprising himself and his wife and their friends the Ashburnhams as "[...] one of those tall ships with the white sails upon a blue sea, one of those things that seem the proudest and the safest [...]". Forwards and backwards it goes, a detail or contradiction thrown in here to complicate the story originally told there, an unreliable narrator, a fixation with the date the 4th. of August, everyone in the end apparently mad or dead or both - "It is all a darkness," says Dowell at one juncture, and how right he is!
Granted there are some very fine points and sure touches, but one almost misses them in the effort of trying to tie in the various unravelled narrative strands and finding one's way through what Dowell admits is "a sort of maze". Would a second reading prove more enlightening? I'm not particularly inclined to find out. So, onwards and upwards, Floreant Centaureae and all that, and here's to books which make an impression for more positive reasons. But what did you think of this one?
PS. The Good Soldier's 'cake' is here.