The Good Soldier

The Good Soldier

A Tale of Passion

Book - 1989
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At the fashionable German spa town Bad Nauheim, two wealthy, fin de siecle couples -- one British, the other American -- meet for their yearly assignation. As their story moves back and forth in time between 1902 and 1914, the fragile surface propriety of the pre -- World War I society in which these four characters live is ruptured -- revealing deceit, hatred, infidelity, and betrayal. "The Good Soldier" is Edward Ashburnham, who, as an adherent to the moral code of the English upper class, is nonetheless consumed by a passion for women younger than his wife -- a stoic but fallible figure in what his American friend, John Dowell, calls "the saddest story I ever heard."
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1989, ©1979
Edition: First Vintage international edition
ISBN: 9780679722182
0679722181
Branch Call Number: FICTION For
Description: xxiv, 278 pages ; 21 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

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 tragi... Read More »


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wyenotgo
Jul 22, 2018

Of the several things wrong with this book, the one that destroyed it for me was the fact that i really found it impossible to give a damn about any of the characters. Least of all the narrator. He seems to wallow in the misery he brought upon himself, having knowingly married a self-proclaimed gold-digger and then catering to her self-proclaimed and clearly phony heart condition while she cheerfully carries on an affair with the fellow he regards as his friend. Whatever misfortune befalls these four people was richly deserved. The novel has much in common with Williams' Stoner in style and substance but Ford's book unfortunately lacks Williams' brilliant prose to make it more palatable.

WVMLStaffPicks Oct 21, 2014

The fragile pre-World War I society which the novel's four characters inhabit is torn apart revealing deceit, hatred, infidelity and betrayal. The 'good soldier's' life appears unimpeachable. But behind the facade his 'good' life was rotting away. The novel has been called 'one of the triumphs of 20th centruy literature.'

WVMLStaffPicks Oct 21, 2014

The fragile pre-World War I society which the novel's four characters inhabit is torn apart revealing deceit, hatred, infidelity and betrayal. The 'good soldier's' life appears unimpeachable. But behind the facade his 'good' life was rotting away. The novel has been called 'one of the triumphs of 20th centruy literature.'

patienceandfortitude Sep 03, 2014

The characters in this novel were such horrible people that I found if very difficult to enjoy the book. The writing was very good, but that wasn't enough to make me happy.

s
Sarah1984
Nov 04, 2012

23/8 - I admit, I picked this book up because it's in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die book and because I thought this book had something to do with WWI. I've read the first 20 pages so far and while I was reading it I kept expecting something war related to crop up. I have now been enlightened as to why nothing ever did crop up by the previous reviews for the book. While I was surprised by this, so far I'm not disappointed with the different plot. Check back later for further developments.

25/8 - This is the second book I've read this week where the author insists on being mysterious about the locations he's (or she, as was the case with the previous book) writing about. What's with M_____ as a substitute to actually giving the name of a holiday destination that the characters were heading to. The book is fictional, if you don't want to use real location names make up a place (argghh).
Other than that small but highly irritating niggle I'm enjoying the book. At the moment it appears to be a slowly revealed mystery (perhaps murder) about two perfect couples, at least they are on the surface. One couple, John and Florence Dowell are British and the other, Edward and Leonora Ashburnham, are American. The two couples meet at some kind of spa for the treatment of heart problems (it's set in 1913/14). By the end of the book Edward and Florence are both dead and the narrator, John, is retelling the tale of how they got that way through his and Leonora's recollections. It was a little slow moving, but it became more interesting when we learned that Edward was a serial philanderer and that he and Florence were having an affair leading up to their deaths. To be continued...

3/9 - Goodness, I didn't realise how long it had been since I last added to this review. At about the spot where I was up to with the last review I got a bit bored of the constant misdirections and back and forth in time tangents that Ford sent the story on. He'd be going on in a normal linear time line and then some little point of a conversation or anecdote would send us back in time some months or years. I started getting confused as to what order the events in the 'present day' time line actually happened, he jumped back and forth so often. I can say that like with most good horror movies, almost everyone dies.

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