Oct 6, 2012

Parade's End, by Ford Madox Ford

Parade's End is unlike anything I've read before. On so many different levels Ford Madox Ford's book is etched in my memory. It's truly a masterpiece. Weeks after I've finished, it's lingered. As I'm out for a walk my mind wanders to it.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Christopher Tietjens
It has a rich plot, there are so many nuances. The scenes are often explored from more than one point of view so you get to know the characters on a more intimate level and with each perspective you learn more about either their history or a piece of the plot left out earlier; it's non-linear.

Christopher Tietjens has the courage to say exactly what he thinks and feels under no obligation to take nonsense in the sense of gossip and society-- Let people say what they will about himself; He doesn't pretend with anyone.

He's a true gentleman, the kindest character, intelligent and noble but because of misunderstandings and the selfish motives of some contemporaries he's thought of as disreputable.

He has great inner strength and is a gentle old soul. But he is very protective of the reputation of those he loves or is under obligation to, like his wife the beautiful and brazen Sylvia. He feels it's his duty to continue in their parade of marriage.

Rebecca Hall as Sylvia Tietjens
Sylvia's determination is uncontrollable. She's 'clumsily' in love with her husband:
It was all very well to say that every one of Sylvia’s eccentricities had in view the sole aim of getting her boy’s father to return to her. No doubt they might be. He... was perfectly ready to concede that even her infidelities, notorious as they had been, might have been merely ways of calling his unfortunate brother’s attention back to her —of keeping herself in his mind.
After the marriage Christopher, finding out that he had been a mere catspaw, probably treated her pretty coldly or ignored her —maritally… And he was a pretty attractive fellow, Christopher... A regular saint and Christian martyr and all that… Enough to drive a woman wild if she had to live beside him and be ignored.
She's reckless in her love for him and doesn't know how to show it, partially because her first romance was with the brutish Drake.

She reduces herself to stratagems and with Christopher's grand breadth of knowledge she feels at a disadvantage-- something very rare for her.

Valentine Wannop has the same boldness of spirit as Sylvia but puts it to a different use. She's active in promoting woman's rights, a suffragette. She nurtures and encourages.

Adelaide Clemmens as Valentine Wannop
There's a mutual attraction between her and Christopher; They're intellectual equals. That's not to say Sylvia is less sharp or quick, but their minds are dissimilar, they think in different languages.Valentine understands his fluently.
“It was no good anymore, he said to himself. She loved him, he knew, with a deep, and unshakable passion, just as his passion for her was a devouring element that covered his whole mind as the atmosphere envelopes the earth.”
But Christopher feels he cannot divorce Sylvia, no honorable gentleman would. And he is torn between what he feels is his duty and acting for his own happiness. Admist this love triangle WWI begins and we witness the kinks of the logistics and the imagery which only a veteran could describe:
It had just announced itself, saying protestingly , ‘CAN…NON’, and its shell soaring away to an enormous height caught the reflection of the unrisen sun on its base. A shining disc, like a halo in flight… Pretty! A pretty motive for a decoration, tiny pretty planes up on a blue sky amongst shiny, flying haloes! Dragonflies amongst saints.
There are many aspects of the books I haven't even touched but I'm so grateful to Tom Stoppard for adapting it, otherwise I may not have come across this beautiful work. I'm looking forward to watching the BBC/HBO production sometime when it airs (in the US) next year.

7 comments

JaneGS said...

I've never read Ford Maddox Ford, and never heard of this novel before you mentioned it, but it does sound marvelous, and the adaptation looks terrific.

I love books that stick with you and force you to think about them for weeks--Atonement was like that for me, and this books reminds of Atonement in terms of the moral dilemmsas the characters face.

Great review.

Alice said...

"Weeks after I've finished, it's lingered."

Same! It is hands down my favourite series of books, and I don't think it will ever be bumped.

Stoppard's adaptation was my route to reading the novels also, the adaptation was beautiful and the books magnificent.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I really must read this soon. I watched the BBC production and loved it. There was also a programme about Ford Madox Ford, which was very good too.

booksandreviews said...

Sounds like a great book although I've not heard much from the author. I'll add it to my TBR list :)

Charlotte said...

I really like how you talk about this book but I thought it was so difficult! Like you say there are so many nuances and I think I might have missed a lot of them. I agree with you, it is a masterpiece, and would probably benefit from many more readings. I think Tom Stoppard had a real task to create a suitable for TV timeline out of it. Have you read The Good Soldier? I think I preferred that one but it is nowhere near as complex as Parade's End.

Elisabeth said...

I've meant to read this novel for quite some time -- I hope to before the show is released in the U.S. The way you describe the book makes me think of Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, mainly for the complexity and how it has stuck with me for months since I read it.

choi jiwon said...

I am trying to write on my own blog about parades' end in Korea, but in Korean there is a few reviews about this drama. So, your review gave me a lot of information and I could understand this drama more thanks to you.

Oct 6, 2012

Parade's End, by Ford Madox Ford

Parade's End is unlike anything I've read before. On so many different levels Ford Madox Ford's book is etched in my memory. It's truly a masterpiece. Weeks after I've finished, it's lingered. As I'm out for a walk my mind wanders to it.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Christopher Tietjens
It has a rich plot, there are so many nuances. The scenes are often explored from more than one point of view so you get to know the characters on a more intimate level and with each perspective you learn more about either their history or a piece of the plot left out earlier; it's non-linear.

Christopher Tietjens has the courage to say exactly what he thinks and feels under no obligation to take nonsense in the sense of gossip and society-- Let people say what they will about himself; He doesn't pretend with anyone.

He's a true gentleman, the kindest character, intelligent and noble but because of misunderstandings and the selfish motives of some contemporaries he's thought of as disreputable.

He has great inner strength and is a gentle old soul. But he is very protective of the reputation of those he loves or is under obligation to, like his wife the beautiful and brazen Sylvia. He feels it's his duty to continue in their parade of marriage.

Rebecca Hall as Sylvia Tietjens
Sylvia's determination is uncontrollable. She's 'clumsily' in love with her husband:
It was all very well to say that every one of Sylvia’s eccentricities had in view the sole aim of getting her boy’s father to return to her. No doubt they might be. He... was perfectly ready to concede that even her infidelities, notorious as they had been, might have been merely ways of calling his unfortunate brother’s attention back to her —of keeping herself in his mind.
After the marriage Christopher, finding out that he had been a mere catspaw, probably treated her pretty coldly or ignored her —maritally… And he was a pretty attractive fellow, Christopher... A regular saint and Christian martyr and all that… Enough to drive a woman wild if she had to live beside him and be ignored.
She's reckless in her love for him and doesn't know how to show it, partially because her first romance was with the brutish Drake.

She reduces herself to stratagems and with Christopher's grand breadth of knowledge she feels at a disadvantage-- something very rare for her.

Valentine Wannop has the same boldness of spirit as Sylvia but puts it to a different use. She's active in promoting woman's rights, a suffragette. She nurtures and encourages.

Adelaide Clemmens as Valentine Wannop
There's a mutual attraction between her and Christopher; They're intellectual equals. That's not to say Sylvia is less sharp or quick, but their minds are dissimilar, they think in different languages.Valentine understands his fluently.
“It was no good anymore, he said to himself. She loved him, he knew, with a deep, and unshakable passion, just as his passion for her was a devouring element that covered his whole mind as the atmosphere envelopes the earth.”
But Christopher feels he cannot divorce Sylvia, no honorable gentleman would. And he is torn between what he feels is his duty and acting for his own happiness. Admist this love triangle WWI begins and we witness the kinks of the logistics and the imagery which only a veteran could describe:
It had just announced itself, saying protestingly , ‘CAN…NON’, and its shell soaring away to an enormous height caught the reflection of the unrisen sun on its base. A shining disc, like a halo in flight… Pretty! A pretty motive for a decoration, tiny pretty planes up on a blue sky amongst shiny, flying haloes! Dragonflies amongst saints.
There are many aspects of the books I haven't even touched but I'm so grateful to Tom Stoppard for adapting it, otherwise I may not have come across this beautiful work. I'm looking forward to watching the BBC/HBO production sometime when it airs (in the US) next year.

7 comments:

JaneGS said...

I've never read Ford Maddox Ford, and never heard of this novel before you mentioned it, but it does sound marvelous, and the adaptation looks terrific.

I love books that stick with you and force you to think about them for weeks--Atonement was like that for me, and this books reminds of Atonement in terms of the moral dilemmsas the characters face.

Great review.

Alice said...

"Weeks after I've finished, it's lingered."

Same! It is hands down my favourite series of books, and I don't think it will ever be bumped.

Stoppard's adaptation was my route to reading the novels also, the adaptation was beautiful and the books magnificent.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I really must read this soon. I watched the BBC production and loved it. There was also a programme about Ford Madox Ford, which was very good too.

booksandreviews said...

Sounds like a great book although I've not heard much from the author. I'll add it to my TBR list :)

Charlotte said...

I really like how you talk about this book but I thought it was so difficult! Like you say there are so many nuances and I think I might have missed a lot of them. I agree with you, it is a masterpiece, and would probably benefit from many more readings. I think Tom Stoppard had a real task to create a suitable for TV timeline out of it. Have you read The Good Soldier? I think I preferred that one but it is nowhere near as complex as Parade's End.

Elisabeth said...

I've meant to read this novel for quite some time -- I hope to before the show is released in the U.S. The way you describe the book makes me think of Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, mainly for the complexity and how it has stuck with me for months since I read it.

choi jiwon said...

I am trying to write on my own blog about parades' end in Korea, but in Korean there is a few reviews about this drama. So, your review gave me a lot of information and I could understand this drama more thanks to you.

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