Author: Ford Madox Ford
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics
Publication Date: 2010 (1915)
The Good Soldier is a masterpiece of twentieth-century fiction, an inspiration for many later, distinguished writers, including Graham Greene. Set before the First World War, it tells the tale of two wealthy and sophisticated couples, one English, one American, as they travel, socialise, and take the waters in the spa towns of Europe. They are playing the game in style. That game has begun to unravel, however, and with compelling attention to the comic, as well as the tragic, results the American narrator reveals his growing awareness of the sexual intrigues and emotional betrayals that lie behind its façade.
The Good Soldier was a mixed bag for me. To start with the positives... I liked the interesting construction of the piece, the events unfolding in a non-linear fashion, told little by little by a narrator too embroiled in the action to ever be considered objective. The somewhat disordered style of the piece reflected well the mental state of the key players and added to the confusion and doubt. On the negative side, though, while I was engaged in the narration at the start of the piece, my attention soon started to drop away, until, by the final third of the story I had lost any interest in what was happening to the characters. I haven't minded some of Ford's other writings, but The Good Soldier failed to grip me, perhaps because other authors of the period have done similar tales with better execution. If you are already a reader of Ford, this book is worth picking up, but I don't recommend it as a good introduction to his works. I'm giving it 3.5 stars. If wasn't bad, but I didn't fall in love with it.