The first book of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End is beautiful. Seriously beautiful. I’ve loved Ford’s writing ever since I read The Good Soldier and am pleased that the new adaptation will get people reading it again.
Some Do Not… is beautiful because the way of life described is contradicted by the war the reader knows is coming. The last, long English summer is a much used metaphor which Ford uses to his advantage: Whilst everything and everyone is witty and sparkling and modern, inside they are slightly rotten and passionately flawed. Real, I suppose.
Christopher and Sylvia’s marriage is going to be one of the most interesting parts of Parade’s End. Katherine described Sylvia’s love as a desire for possession, which I completely agree with. Their relationship is built on layers of trust and mistrust, double meanings and potentially shady pasts. Valentine, the potential mistress, is an interesting character too – a suffragette supporting her family.
If you wanted something killed you’d go to Sylvia Tietjens in the sure faith that she would kill it: emotion, hope, ideal; kill it quick and sure. If you wanted something kept alive you’d go to Valentine: she’d find something to do for it.
As a side note, I think Rebecca Hall is going to be amazing as Sylvia and I’m looking forward to watching her performance. All the characters are so well written and I feel as though I have only caught a glimpse of their depth.
I am surprised Parade’s End is not a more frequently cited Modernist novel. It was first published just two years after Ulysses and there are some similarities between the two. Ford Madox Ford uses the stream of consciousness in different voices like Joyce did, but in an infinitely more readable way. He has also played around with conventional forms by jumbling up the story’s chronology. Time jarringly skips forwards and backwards, but it enables Ford to present parts of the story as memories. Isn’t that how real stories are? And how life is? I think the style makes the book so much richer.
I am watching the series as well, luckily I had managed to read enough to be able to watch on Friday without fear of spoilers. Hopefully I will be able to keep ahead! I enjoyed the first episode, I think they’ve really captured the style and tone of the book.
I can’t wait to read on.