Book #57-Parade’s End (Some Do Not) by Ford Madox Ford

Parade’s End consists of four novels; Some Do Not (1924), No More Parades (1925), A Man Could Stand Up (1926) and Last Post (1928).

Perhaps I am losing some literary steam, but I have only read one from the tetralogy and so will only be reviewing Some Do Not here.

This read corroborates for me the fine storytelling abilities of Mr. Ford. What seems to be a repeating theme of Ford’s is the personal misunderstandings that develop between people and his fine skill in portraying the various perspectives of his characters’ misconceptions.

Set in England just prior to WWI, Ford depicts the Whip and Tory perspectives of the time as well as realistic suffragette actions.

Christopher Tietjens, a statistician for the government with amazing recall and great intelligence is the novel’s central character.  He is married to an unfaithful woman who bears a son who may or may not be Christopher’s.   This is the character that grows on you.  While initially rather pedantic and socially awkward, a brain injury affects his memory but opens him up emotionally.

Christopher’s friend and colleague, Vincent Macmaster is rather one-dimensional and seems to stand in the shadows of Tietjens.  He begins an affair with  a fellow Scot, whose husband is eventually committed.  They marry after her husband dies while hospitalized, but decide to keep the marriage a secret (I don’t quite understand why).  Macmaster takes credit for an idea of Tietjens which earns him greatness,  all the while thinking his injured friend will not figure out his misdeed.  Not a likable fellow, at all.

The despicable Sylvia Tietjens is the wife of Christopher.  She likely was already pregnant when she seduces Tietjens and they soon marry.  She later runs off with another man, grows tired of him and then wants to return home with many conditions.  She openly reveals her disdain for her husband and her dislike of her son.  Believing the gossip about her husband’s affair, she plots to return to him and make him miserably unhappy.  I enjoyed disliking this woman.

The suffragette, Valentine Wannop, is the rumored mistress of Tietjens.  She is devoted to her widowed mother, a struggling writer, and supports her financially and emotionally.  She trespasses on a golf course with other suffragettes and is aided by Tietjens after being chased by some men.  The two meet again at a dinner party and rumors continue about their presumed love affair.  Fate does seem to be pushing them together, but while some do, they do not.

My one grievance; the book was somewhat verbose.  There were a few instances where I felt I was receiving too much information or that a point was being driven a little too hard.  When I start flipping pages to see how soon a chapter ends, that is not a good sign, and I must confess I did that more than once.

Quotes:

It was the sort of confidence a man didn’t make to his equal, but only to solicitors, doctors, or the clergy who are not quite men.

You look at a dozen men, each of them not by any means detestable and not uninteresting, for each of them would have technical details of their affairs to impart; you formed them into a Government or a club and at once, with oppressions, inaccuracies, gossip, backbiting, lying, corruptions and vileness, you had the combination of wolf, tiger, weasel and louse-covered ape that was human society. 

I would just adore joining Mr. Ford for dinner.  Coaxing some marvelous tales from him would be my main objective and I’m quite sure he would not disappoint.

My rating for Some Do Not is an 8 out of 10.

To see the entire list,  visit Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

Please share your own reviews or  comments by using the link below.

Next up, Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.

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